Evanston/North Shore

Survivor Stories

Names changed for protection.


I have been receiving services with YWCA in Evanston since January of 2014. I will not forget the relief I experienced when I found a place where I could go to talk after being in an abusive relationship for four years. I had no friends, a small support system, and every person I could talk to was, inevitably, a biased opinion of my situation. YWCA has provided me with someone outside of my situation to listen and help in whatever ways possible. Through the counseling service, I have received information on other resources in the community, learned a lot about myself, learned to recognize the red flags of abuse, and generally get a handle on patterns in my own behavior and responses.

Everyone at YWCA is always very friendly, and it is a safe place for me to be. Learning that there are safe places in my life has been another huge experience that I have not had in a very long time. For me, this has been priceless.

YWCA has helped me not only regain a life, but continues to help me keep the things that I have. For this, I will be forever grateful. The services that YWCA provides extend beyond the ways they have helped me though, and it’s comforting to know that there is an open door for other women and children in the community who are in need of a safe place to be.


I am writing to express my gratitude for having had access to domestic violence services provided by YWCA Evanston/North Shore, and for the positive changes that have resulted in my life because of them.

I was first referred to YWCA four years ago by an elementary school social worker I had visited to express my concern about how my son may be affected in school by what had been happening at home. After visiting a women's advocate at YWCA, and later a YWCA court advocate, I got a court order of protection and my partner was forced to move out of my home. A decade of unhappiness and abuse was lessened substantially, and the quality of my life improved.

I am eternally grateful for the comprehensive domestic violence services I have received through YWCA Evanston/North Shore, and how they were available to me free of charge, thereby removing the money obstacle. I can't thank you enough for making this one of your missions.


The day I came home from work and my husband threw me down the basement steps I packed my bag and baby and left him. I called YWCA and I started crying and poured out everything that had happened. It was too much. When the counselor told me to come to the shelter, I was so grateful.

One of the most productive things the shelter offered, absolutely, was the women’s groups. We listened to each other’s stories. One thing the counselor told us was that, generally, only one in ten makes it out of an abusive relationship. I decided when I heard her that I would be the one in ten.

I became good friends with another woman at the shelter. She was a geologist; she used to make maps. She had gotten into a bad relationship. She knew he was no good and she said he was very violent, but she loved him so much. When she left the shelter, she ended up going back to her abuser and he killed her. I was so traumatized by that. He killed her in Chicago. So many things happen. I knew that was a possibility for me too. She was so bright, bubbly, and deeply intelligent. He took a life that needed to be on this earth. I stayed at the shelter another month after she died, and I left my husband and was able to start a new life.

If people are going to contribute to any cause at all, this should be it. The shelter provides everything women need while they are there. Women need counseling as well as shelter. It’s a service. It lets us think introspectively and hear each other, and through other people’s stories we can help each other.

It is so safe there- other women feel that way too. Any extra money I ever have, you guys are getting it. It’s the right thing to do. I want my donations to grow and grow and to help other women like me.


In April, I was badly beaten by my husband. After I was released from the hospital, I called YWCA’s hotline and was approved immediately for shelter services at Mary Lou’s Place. The services my children and I received at YWCA Evanston/North Shore profoundly changed our lives. We were able to be safe in the shelter and were counseled throughout our stay. I continue to receive walk-in counseling services for free, which has enabled me to reclaim my self-esteem and remain free of violence.

I hope that YWCA continues to receive funding so that they can keep serving the needs of domestic violence survivors. 


For starters, I would like to take a moment to express my gratefulness at being here, and thank those who were kind enough to donate the wonderful suitcase with lots of goodies and things I need. It's people like you that make life a lot easier. May God walk beside you and bless you in times of need. Thank you so much.


Two years ago I was in need of help. Help with housing, help with personal and emotional issues, help with and for my son. Through God’s grace, I landed in this wonderful program here at YWCA Evanston/North Shore. Not only did I find the help I so desperately needed, I found a program that enabled me to get another start in life. Second chances are rare in this day and age. I am grateful to everyone who has played such an important role not only in my life, but in the lives of other women that have gone through this program. The staff at YWCA has a special calling in life. The generosity that I have seen from people in and around this program far surpasses anything that I have ever witnessed. There is no doubt in my mind that God works through you ladies to help empower and motivate women. I took advantage of what was offered and was able to recognize, deal with and let go of some very difficult and painful issues. Through this program, I have found strength, understanding and hope for the future. Some people have called me lucky…I know that it’s God’s grace and mercy that has pulled me through. With every ounce of sincerity, I wish to thank you ALL from the bottom depths of my heart. May God bless and continue to keep you.

Often in my dreams
Sometimes in my thoughts
Always in my heart.


My abusive marriage lasted for 13 years. One night my daughter and I were so afraid, and we fled with only a few plastic bags in our hands. We didn’t have anywhere to go. A friend suggested I contact YWCA, and they told me I could bring my daughter to their shelter. During the month I called Mary Lou’s Place home, I didn’t tell anyone what was happening in my life. Anyone except for my counselor—I told her everything.

At YWCA Evanston/North Shore, I was treated with dignity, not pity. I felt safe. After so many years of abuse, I had come to believe that I was unworthy and dispensable. My counselor offered affirmation and encouragement. I have drawn courage, fortitude and belief in myself from her words and my experience many, many times throughout my life’s journey since then.

Today, I am in a safe and happy marriage. I am a successful professional. And I know first-hand how lives are saved, helped and changed at YWCA.


If you or someone you know needs help, call 847-864-8780 or (toll free) 877-718-1868.


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