Kathleen's Story: Coming Full Circle

 
        Kathleen and her son, 25 years ago

 

 

 

 

Kathleen and her son, 25 years ago

 

25 years ago, she came to WIT as a client.

In August 2016, Kathleen Albertson was transferred to the Stephen Girard Building (WIT's former location) for her work. When she stood in the lobby, she was struck by the feeling that she had been here before.  But it wasn’t until she went floor to floor to meet each tenant and she saw the Women In Transition sign on the 6th floor that she remembered when or how. She had been here. 25 years ago, she came to WIT as a client.

She felt utterly trapped and alone. 

Kathleen was 15 when she started dating a neighborhood boy. When she was 16, he pulled her hair for talking to a male friend across the street and beat up her friend. Normal jealousy, she thought at the time. They continued to date. A few years later, she got pregnant and moved in with him. Four days into living together, he punched her for the first time.

She didn’t know what abuse was, and she didn’t know she was being abused. Her boyfriend controlled what she ate, saying “I don’t want a fat girlfriend.” She constantly had bumps, bruises, black eyes. When he hit her, he’d blame her: “Look what you made me do.” He called her stupid and ugly, told her that no one else would want her if she left him. When he was angry at her, he would throw their kitten against the wall, saying, “I did this so I wouldn’t hit you.”

She felt utterly trapped and alone.  Her boyfriend had convinced her that she didn’t need any other friends but him.

Kathleen left him the first time to give birth to their son. Her boyfriend called and called after her birth, and convinced her to come back to him. Then he hit their son while he was teething, and this second time, she left for good.

At WIT, she realized that she wasn’t alone and that she wasn’t crazy.

Kathleen reached WIT through a Courage Card that a police officer gave her father. She called our hotline and came to WIT for group counseling and individual empowerment counseling. Coming to Sister Circle, hearing everyone else’s stories, made her realize that she wasn’t alone and that she wasn’t crazy. And Kathleen learned that what she had experienced was domestic violence.

She went to night school for her high school diploma. Later, as a stay-at-home mom with 4 children, she went to college at night. Today, she is an Account Manager for Allan Industries, volunteers for the Women’s Center of Montgomery County, and speaks out against domestic violence. All her children know her story.

Coming back to WIT made her realize she had come full circle.

“25 years later, I wish you’d hear less about it, but you don’t,” Kathleen says. “There’s more education. There are more examples of stars in Hollywood or in the media coming forward about abuse…. [in speaking out myself], I do know that I make a difference.”