Cathy’s story was featured in our 2015 Annual Report.
While planning her third wedding, Cathy thought she had finally found the man of her dreams. And after two extremely abusive prior marriages, she believed she knew the warning signs. Controlling, possessive…not words she would use to describe her soon to be husband. However, in the months leading up to her wedding, Cathy thought things were strange. She was aware that her fiancé had served in combat and had some of the tell-tale signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): agitation, anxiety, and jumpiness. His previous wife had also passed away; another shock she would soon find had not healed. And once her fiancé stopped taking his medication, she soon learned the severity of the situation.
It all came to fruition on their wedding night. What should have been a blissful night, soon turned into a nightmare. Cathy recounts, “On my wedding night, we came home and he told me that I would have to leave because his (deceased) wife was back and she would hurt me. I felt destroyed.” Her husband’s psychotic state continued and forced her to leave their home. In their last conversation, he requested a divorce as he couldn’t stay married to two women…a situation that wasn’t real. Cathy couldn’t believe she had been blindsided again. She had no idea the severity of the situation, nor did she have any idea her husband had medication, let alone was refusing to take it.
With nowhere to turn, a friend told Cathy about Catholic Charities’ First Step Victim Services. One of the Advocates met with Cathy. “Years of things that had happened came out when I was talking to the Advocate and she was just so supportive,” states Cathy. “I explained what I was up against: the mortgage and taxes weren’t paid and I was going to lose the car because the car payment wasn’t paid. I got help with my taxes and Catholic Charities helped with my car payment…I couldn’t live out here without a car.” Cathy’s home is a testament to her need for tranquility and peace. She recently built a fireplace by creating plaster stones by hand and her own beautiful paintings can be seen throughout her home. Staying in her home is imperative to Cathy. When Cathy needed hip replacement surgery recently, her Advocate was there to care for her two dogs and pick her up from the hospital.
When asked, where would you be without the assistance of Catholic Charities? Cathy replied, “Probably living in my car.” Cathy’s eyes welled with tears, “Emotionally…I think I just would have given up. I’m not there anymore, but I thought about it a lot. I would have gone to sleep and not gotten up. It upsets me to think I’ve been put in that position so many times. And thankful that I didn’t do anything about it and without you guys (Catholic Charities), I probably would have this time. It was something that put me over the top. It was like enough is enough, I’m 62, it’s time to rest.”
We are so thankful that Cathy is here with us and grateful for the amazing work of our Staff. The First Step Victim Services program provides advocacy and referral services to all victims of crime in Chemung & Schuyler Counties, with a strong focus on victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse. You must be an innocent victim of a crime (i.e. domestic violence, sexual assault, robbery, assault, etc.). If you are a victim or know someone that may be a victim, don’t wait to get help. Call Catholic Charities today at 607.535.2050; Call or text our 24/7 Hotline: 607.742.9629.
First Step Victim Services exists due to the generous support of local donors as well as federal grants. Please consider a donation to help local victims in need.