When Samantha* first came to WIT, she was homeless.
She had been in an abusive relationship with her wife for 5 years. Samantha was defending herself against her wife's attack when the police were called. Because Samantha is a trans woman, the police assumed Samantha was the perpetrator, and she was arrested.
Her wife obtained a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order and evicted Samantha from their shared home. Upon her release, she was instructed she could not go back to the only home she had, not to even collect her belongings. Samantha reached out for help to the few family members who had not turned their backs on her because of her identity.
Her cousin gave her shelter for a little while, before telling Samantha that she didn't want "any drama" and asked her to leave. Samantha started reaching out to various shelters, and was turned away from the first few she called. People's voices changed, she said, once she disclosed that she was a trans woman.
She began crying before she had even taken a seat
A friend referred her to WIT to receive counseling services. She attended Sister Circle, despite worrying about the biases she would meet from other group members. She needed the support.
At the end of her first group, she was surprised by the acceptance she had received. Although some group members were noticeably uncomfortable with her presence, the WIT counselor had made her feel welcome.
She pulled the counselor aside to thank her. The thank you turned into a conversation. By the end of the conversation, Samantha had requested an appointment for intake.
On the day of intake, she began crying before she had even taken a seat. Samantha revealed she had a history of substance abuse, that she grew up in the DHS system, and that she had been rejected by just about everyone she knew. Together, Samantha and her counselor worked on a safety plan around everyday activities like getting on the bus, going to public restrooms, and being safe on the street: all key to her survival and recovery.
Samantha attended counseling for six months. She is currently living in transitional housing, working part time, and rebuilding her life. Samantha relapsed 2 months ago, but immediately went in an Intensive Outpatient recovery program. She still attends Sister Circle, and is grateful to WIT for providing her a safe space to be herself and to feel accepted.
*Name changed for confidentiality