****for my safety and security, I do not put any personally identifying information on the website or in the posts.  This includes organization names; I use acronyms or provide web links as appropriate.*****

Introduction

Web of Benefit is a non-profit organization that provides grants to adult female survivors of domestic violence who meet the application criteria.  The organization also writes a blog and a Facebook page for anyone who wants to learn more about survivors changing their lives for the better, positive affirmations, resources, and coping strategies.

This is from their website:

Established in 2004, Web of Benefit, Inc. is a non-profit organization created by women affected by domestic violence for women escaping domestic violence. Our mission is to promote liberation from domestic violence and ensure the personal and financial independence of survivors, while breaking the inter-generational cycle of abuse. We accomplish this by awarding Self-Sufficiency Grants to women who need to create a plan for economic independence as they leave a shelter or transitional living program. Self-Sufficiency Grants provide: housing and housing stabilization; college classes; General Educational Development (GED) certification; English as a Second Language (ESL) classes; laptops for job searches and educational work; micro-business start-up costs; and transportation to attend school or job training. Upon recieving a grant, each recipient is required to “pay it forward” to three other survivors. 

Web of Benefit’s goals are:

  • To empower survivors to advance from safety, to stability, to self-sufficiency and economic independence.

  • To mentor survivors in order for them to rebuild their dreams by dreaming big and focusing small.

  • To create a realistic plan to reach each goal.

  • To create and strengthen partnerships and collaborations with agencies, foundations, corporations and private individuals to achieve our goals.

My Story

Last March I was working hard to help myself feel emotionally and physically safe.  My therapist and I had been talking about my other, more extreme, options in session; the costs and benefits of moving again, changing my name, etc. and figuring out how to disappear when my family, connections, and I lived in the same state.
One weekend before an anniversary, I was looking up resources and grants for women and survivors.  The searches left me feeling frustrated because I appeared to not meet any of the criteria for them.  So I looked up some of the key words and phrases that appeared on the criteria list again and again: victim, domestic violence, child neglect, partner rape, etc.
As I read the definitions, I thought to myself how can I meet this criteria?  I am not a victim anymore.  Does domestic violence match my situation?  It’s been over a year since I separated from my family.  I am not in a domestic violence situation anymore.  Is what they did considered domestic violence?  I am an adult, not a child.  I don’t have any proof other than my memories.  I am not a victim.
And then it hit me.  I am not a victim now.  I am a survivor.  But I was a victim.  Therefore I qualified for this help.  And the language from these grants and organizations might focus on the victim part of the equation, but victims become survivors.  So they probably help survivors too, right?
Before I could ask for help, the epiphany told me, I have to acknowledge the truth: I was a victim, and the parts of me still stuck in the past are victims.  We deserve assistance.  It’s there waiting for me, for us to reach out and ask.
inally, the criteria made sense.  And I realized there were more resources than grants available to me.  That is how I re-discovered BARCC, the organization and hotline.  Through BARCC, my advocate told me about a grant for women to help them take the first steps in achieving  their dreams.  I qualified, and my advocate filled in the program management part.
We put in the application.  I met with the organization representative for the interview.  After an hour, the representative accepted my application.  Then she explained the contract and what I had to complete within one year to keep the money.  There was only one task: to help 3 other women in similar positions (survivors trying to make a new start) with some kind of non-monetary assistance.
Part of the money went to legal fees for my name change and related paperwork.  The rest went to career counseling sessions to help me find a different career path and job that took me one step closer to achieving my dream career.

Approximate timeline

  • July 2013 I started designing this website
  • September 2013 marked my official name change, entry into the state-run address confidentiality program, and move to the new apartment
  • November 2013 marked a change in my career counseling focus: the company I work for got acquired.  The new parent company offered many opportunities, so I stayed
  • March 2015, I had all of my new identification and paperwork changed to my new name
  • May 2015, I started joining social media and decided to stop hiding
  • June 2015, I launched this website and blog – the first real step to achieving my dream
All this because the Web of Benefits representative believed in the plan I described during our interview.

More than a grant-giving organization

I provide the name of this organization because any woman in the United States who meets the criteria and has an advocate to verify the application, is eligible to receive a grant.
And while the grant-giving part of the organization is for female survivors of domestic violence (and dependents if any), the other resources are free to anyone with an Internet connection.  I have found some of my favorite affirmations and mantras on their blog and Facebook page.  And when I feel down, viewing the success stories, the poems, the artwork, and the quotes inspires me to keep moving on.

I am thankful for organizations like this.  In accepting the terms of that contract, I

  • learned to accept being a victim and a survivor; these labels are not mutually exclusive
  • became aware of how many people I encounter every day who struggle with similar obstacles
  • Realized how easily I could help someone without the fear and anxiety that came with joining an organization
Next month, is the one year anniversary and end of my contract.  More than the money, the people I met through this experience enriched my life and offered me choices I never had before.

F

Thank you so much for being there when I needed you most Web of Benefit.
If any of the readers are interested, here is the website:
Http://www.webpfbenefit.org

Reader’s Digest

Before I could take the next steps toward my goal, I had to accept being a victim as much as being a survivor.  Because victims become survivors and vice versa.  Once I got past the denial of being a victim, I was able to look at these resources from a different perspective.  One that allowed me to reach out and ask for help.  But more importantly, listen and accept that help.  Because (at least for me), finding help is the easy part.  Asking for help is not that difficult.  But accepting help, and the fact that I need help, seems impossible sometimes.  Working with these organizations has opened my eyes to the fact that many of the people who work in places like this are compassionate, accepting, and supportive of survivors and their struggles to live full lives.
Are you willing to ask for help?  Accept help?  Do you struggle with labels and not feeling like you deserve assistance?  I hope this post helps you realize that you deserve assistance and to live the life you want instead of accepting something less.
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