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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
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.
Client's make an impact with Mission of WELD. The Weintraub family.
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