We had to close our drop-in for a few weeks this summer due to a scheduling conflict with the church we use. I missed seeing our regular drop-in guests, and I wondered if they missed the drop-in too. When Millie arrived our first week back, I knew the drop-in had been missed:
She walked into the drop-in – the blanket she was wrapped in was soaking wet, it’d been raining all morning. Her face was bruised, her eyes looked tired. She buried her head into my shoulder and sobbed uncontrollably. All I could make out from her muffled words were
“I’m so glad you’re open today.”
Once she calmed down, she told me what had happened. She’d recently been evicted from her apartment, so she was staying with her long-term boyfriend, Fred. Fred and Millie had been together for years, and during the entire course of their relationship, he’s been physically and emotionally abusive towards her. Lately he’d been worse, and she told me horrific stories of how he’d dehumanized her.
“Am I that worthless? Am I that bad a person?” She asked me.
She wouldn’t believe me when I told her about her real value and her true worth.
She then told me that Fred only valued her as a way to make money, as he tried to force her into prostitution. When she refused, he kicked her out. She’d spent the previous night wandering the streets.
“I was just walking around in the rain, with nowhere to go, and then I remember the drop-in. And I just prayed you guys were open.”
Like so many women trapped in abusive relationships, Millie was not ready to accept help at a woman’s shelter or other agency. Even though I wanted to force her to get some help, I knew I couldn’t. All we could do was get her some dry, warm clothes, a hot meal and a cup of coffee. We tried to show her just a little about how she deserves to be treated. My hope is that one day she sees her true value and that she surrounds herself with people who love her and treat her well.