Kathleen's Story: Coming Full Circle

 
Kathleen and her son, 25 years ago

Kathleen and her son, 25 years ago

Kathleen and her son today

Kathleen and her son today

 

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

In August 2016, Kathleen Albertson’s job transferred her into the Stephen Girard Building (WIT's former location). When she stood in the lobby, she was struck by the feeling that she had been here before. But it wasn’t until 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, and then he beat up the 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 have a name for what she was going through. Her boyfriend controlled what she ate, saying “I don’t want a fat girlfriend.” She constantly had bruises and black eyes. When he hit her, he would 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 had to do that 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 after giving birth to their son. Her boyfriend called and called after the birth, and successfully convinced her to come back to him. Then he hit their infant son, and she left for a second time, this time for good.

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

Kathleen reached Women In Transition (WIT) through a Courage Card that a police officer had given her father. She called our hotline and came to WIT for group counseling and individual empowerment counseling. 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. WIT was her safe haven.

Today, Kathleen 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. She raised her four children as a single mom, while getting her high school diploma and college degree in night school.

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

“25 years later, I wish you’d hear less about [domestic violence], but you don’t. WIT is still here because there’s still a need.” Kathleen says. “I consider myself a Survivor. Counseling helped so much, it gave me strength. When I speak out and tell my story, I know that I make a difference.”