Putting the Pieces Back Together

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Theresa's Story

We sat down with Theresa—a mother, wife, and, now a Weld member. She

experienced homelessness and exposure to violence from a young age, but has

begun to put the pieces back together and is reconnecting to a sense of safety

and self-worth, one day at a time. Read on for her story and advice to those who

are still struggling…


What brought you to Weld?


My situation's kind of unique because my husband did 28 years [of jail time], and

this is where he found himself on the way out. We were together for 21 of those

years. He got a lot of support and I started realizing that even though I was never

incarcerated, I had a lot of inner conflict. Even though my legal problems never

led to jail time, I was a victim of a violent crime that never got prosecuted, which

resulted in me almost dying—I got shot in the head.


What I'm learning from Weld is how to connect with the people around me to

create my own support system. That’s what I saw working for my husband and

I’m learning it now as well.


What Weld services have you found most helpful?


The outreach. They have had some amazing seminars. The other day I realized

that I was sitting next to an officer that just got rewarded for his civic duties. It

was really enlightening for me to be able to sit in that atmosphere and see that

everybody's just kind of equal trying to do the same things. I didn't feel

disenfranchised. I felt as if I was a part of the community. That's the first

experience I've had where I’ve felt that way.


How have you grown through this whole process?


One of the problems that I have really suffered from is low-self esteem and not

feeling value. It's kept me from achieving the things that I really want to do with

myself. And I think that through Weld, I will probably end up in the peer

program. In the past, I had almost had a Bachelor's Degree, but it didn’t mean

anything to me, because I was suffering so much from feeling like I had no value.

I didn't see myself as being able to help anybody. But through this program, I've

learned to see myself as I am, more and more. It’s helping me as a mother, it's

helping me as a friend, and it's helping me as a wife, and I think it will help me to

better work with other people.


What advice would you give to other women with self-esteem issues?


I think I have a unique perspective on the Weld program because I haven't been

incarcerated. But I was on the street when I was 12 years old, even though I

came out of a very rich home. I just ended up that way. It didn't make sense and I

didn't fall in any of the categories.


I do know that there are a lot of women out there that have been affected by the

system. In my case, I was assaulted by an officer when I was 12 years old and

didn't know what to do. That sense of not being protected, not having value, not

being able to trust—sometimes we incorporate that in our overall sense of how

we value ourselves. And that's unfortunate because it is just a

misunderstanding. 


I'm 51 years old, and I'm just now gaining this knowledge. It's going to change

my life. Some people are invisible because they don't end up in the system, they

just die. They become victims. They enter horrible relationships. They don't

know how to see themselves as somebody worth fighting for, because they don't

know that. So my message is that we are all born equal. And I love myself,

because I'm being taught to. Not because I grew up that way. 


I need unity. I need strong and good people around me that are willing to be

honest. And thank goodness for me, those voices are louder than the feeling of

not being protected.


What Weld programming have you participated in?


I used to have a high IQ, and be good with math—see things in numbers. But

because I was shot, I don't anymore. I struggle with some things. So some of the

classes that they have to get you back into the workforce were helpful to me.

Sitting in a room and admitting to myself for the first time, that this is where I am

and I can't change it. Having the support and having people around me where I

can admit that was amazing. I like the peer support. 


If you could pass on wisdom from your experience, what would you share? 


I'm going to talk to the women and the girls. I just want to say that there are a lot

of things that happen in your life that aren't your fault. I see people on the streets

all the time. I know how they feel, what they're going through, and I know what it

feels like to lack value. But if you can just get around people that are safe, just

safe. There are safe people in this program. This is one of the places where you

can find them. And hopefully, there will be more and more people that are

willing to step up. Don't ever let anybody tell you who you are. You get to be the

director of your own reality. That's what I would say.


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