|The Impact of Our Work and Your Support|
Amesbury Ma. Survivor Jill Hrubes, R.O.S.E. Award winner, earns B.A. from Simmons College
Jill Hrubes, a 49 year old mother of three boys --ages 17, 15 and 8, suffered from low self esteem not long ago. She worked in a cafeteria and was unable to leave an abusive relationship. She had to walk into the admissions office of Northern Essex Community College three times before she got nerve enough to sign up for a course, she told the Boston Globe when she got the R.O.S.E. Award in 2006. Since then Jill has earned THREE academic degrees. Two are from Northern Essex Community College --in liberal arts and paralegal studies. The third is her Simmons College B.A. in women's studies and social justice. She has applied for a probation officer position and is beginning graduate school. She’s also devoting herself to getting her two eldest sons into college and on good career tracks.
Jill Hrubes is on the Board of Greater Haverhill Community Action. She volunteers with The R.O.S.E. Fund and at The Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center in Newburyport. She also teaches Sunday school at her church.
In Jill’s words…
“My real life began after my divorce when I was able to make the decisions for myself and my family. The R.O.S.E. Fund enabled me to go to Simmons College, to learn about myself and what was important to my family and my future. It had been a dream of mine to complete a degree. It never seemed possible due to the expense. Now my purpose is to enable others to leave domestic violence situations, to help empower them to follow their dreams and set up their own futures, free of fear.”
“Making the changes in my life that I have made over the last nine years --up to and including graduation from college-- seems surreal at times. I have to pinch myself. I look through term papers I wrote five years ago and I compare them to papers I wrote last year. ‘WOW,’ I tell myself. I got smart!’ I am grateful and fulfilled as I look forward to the next chapter in my life. My eldest son is looking forward to his senior year in high school and is making choices for his future based on the guidance I have given him. I’ve stressed the importance of education and of not settling for less.”
“What is my advice to others who are still in abusive relationships? Walk through your fears and get out. Find one person who will listen to you and who will not be judgmental. Open up to that person. Having someone who listens and who doesn’t judge is imperative to believing in yourself again. Get out of the abusive situation. Be confident. Know that you will NEVER go back. If you cannot do it for yourself, do it for your future generations to break the cycle. You can make a difference in the world and it starts with closing that door behind you. I will not say it has been easy, but it was the best decision I have made in my life.”
“I want to continue to be a part of The R.O.S.E. Fund. It’s a wonderful network of people changing the world and its views on domestic violence. I’ll be volunteering again at the Annual Awards Gala and I hope to bring all three of my boys. I want them to see that here are people out there who want to help.”
Boston Survivor Samantha Daniels, 35, finishes college, owns home, has warm and loving husband, is “enjoying all that life has to offer”
My boyfriend’s arguments with me always started with words but ended with physical blows. When I was seventeen years old and a senior in high school, his blow to my face one afternoon in his apartment made me fall to my knees. I saw nothing but black. I felt warm blood running down my mouth. I regained my sight after a few seconds. I got up and ran to the bathroom. I discovered in the bathroom mirror that this individual who claimed to love me had broken my nose.
I asked him frantically to fix it, to break my nose back into place. He said he couldn’t. I left his apartment feeling shattered and defeated. I walked myself home. My mother and twelve year old sister opened the door and received me with my bloody face and busted up nose.
But I lived with the physical disfigurement well into my twenties. It was a constant reminder that my past was not far behind me. I would stand in front of my bathroom mirror for hours, examining my broken nose from every angle, dreaming of a regular nose. I couldn’t afford the surgery to correct it. But that changed.
I was given an opportunity to see Dr. John Lazor, a professional plastic surgeon and very kind man who is resident at The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary's Facial and Cosmetic Surgery Center. It was during this first consultation that I learned about The R.O.S.E Fund. I was worried that, when I met The R.O.S.E Fund advocates, they would reject me because the incident occurred way back in my adolescence. But I kept the mindset that I had nothing to lose. After meeting them and sharing my story, they made me understand that I wasn’t any less of a victim because years had passed; indeed I was someone who suffered significant trauma and abuse and who had been scarred for years. They were tremendously supportive and, much to my surprise accepted me as an eligible recipient.
I am grateful to all of the wonderful people who partnered with or donated their time and talents to The R.O.S.E. Fund. -- the surgeons and staff at the Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary, David Nicholas & Inc., Beauty and Mane, Lesley and Petal’s cooking / nutrition classes and many more.
A lot of positive things have happened in my life since the surgery. I am happily married to a warm and loving man. I am a proud home owner. I have proudly completed my college degree. I have been enjoying all that life has to offer. Thank you R.O.S.E FUND, for renewing my Spirit!
Lynn Ma. Survivor Crusita Martinez has R.O.S.E. Fund Surgeries, attends North Shore Community College, is reunited with her son
Recognized at the 2007 R.O.S.E. Fund Gala as an inspirational survivor and R.O.S.E. Fund Facial Reconstructive Surgery Program recipient, Crusita Martinez, underwent more critical facial reconstructive help at Mass. Eye and Ear Institute in 2008. Procedures included complex nasal reconstruction, flap with rib cartilage graft, bilateral medial canthoplasty plus orbital reconstruction.
The severe disfigurement she suffered at the hands of an abusive ex boyfriend in 2002 rendered her so unrecognizable and frightening to her son, then a toddler, that he fled her touch. The ex boyfriend covered her with what Dominicans call a “cocktail of death” -- skin searing battery acids and urine. R.O.S.E. Fund recently sent Crusita to the Dominican Republic for a reunion with her son whom she had noit seen since her disfigurement. Crusita’s son, now ten years of age, was delighted to see his mother. He is planning a trip to Massachusetts in the near future. With the help of Web of Benefit in Wellesley, Mass. Crusita is taking English and computer classes at North Shore Community College. She remains an outspoken advocate for ending domestic violence. Her devoted husband, Cesar Muniz, works as an endocrine medical assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital where Crusita was once a patient. He will soon finish nursing school.
Worcester Ma. Survivor Heralda de Jesus has R.O.S.E. Fund Surgeries, throws away mask, smiles at the world.
Honored at the 2007 R.O.S.E. Fund Gala as an inspirational survivor and R.O.S.E. Fund Facial Reconstructive Surgery Program recipient, Heralda also received help at Mass. Eye and Ear Institute in early 2008 including reconstructed upper lip, eyelid surgery, nasal reconstruction and skin grafts.
Several years ago, Heralda’s ex husband (now serving 2 to 5 years in a state prison) threw hot cooking oil at her. She suffered facial disfigurement and second and third degree burns over 30% of her body. Until receiving help from The R.O.S.E. Fund, Heralda wore a face mask whenever she left the house – including her time at work as a hotel cleaner.
Heralda has become a strong and courageous survivor especially as The R.O.S.E. Fund Facial Reconstructive Surgeries have taken place. She threw away her mask, proudly shows her smile and faces the world. A close friendship with fellow R.O.S.E. Fund Facial Reconstructive Surgery Program recipient Crusita Martinezhas increased Heralda’s self confidence dramatically. Her relationship with her new and supportive boyfriend has helped immensely too.
New Bedford Ma. Survivor Carol M works two jobs, gets renewed R.O.S.E. Scholarship, moves toward nursing degree
Carol M broke the cycle of domestic abuse three years ago. Now the 46 year old mother of two teens is working as driver’s education instructor and home health aide and, with a boost from The R.O.S.E. Scholarship in the fall of 2007 and the spring of 2008, she’s well into her coursework for her Registered Nurse degree at Brockton Hospital. It was her best friend, a nurse at Boston’s Faulkner Hospital, who told her about The R.O.S.E. Fund a year ago, who acted as sponsor and who helped Carol fill out the application.
Describing the joy of being notified via mail about her first scholarship award, she said:“. I was soooo happy! That took a lot of pressure off me. I didn’t have to worry about where the money was going to come from. I didn’t have to work an extra job. I could study more. I called my best friend and told her right away! I feel proud of myself,” Carol continued, “The R.O.S.E. Fund had enough faith in me that they awarded me the scholarships that allows me to continue school and better myself.”
Carol suffered unrelenting criticism from her husband over their fourteen year marriage. “The kids and I were always made to feel worthless, that we could never do anything right. Whenever anything went wrong, it was never his fault - always mine. I tried to take the blame off them - shield them, protect them. The degradation was insidious. He wouldn’t let the kids leave their rooms when he was home. I tried to get him to leave but he wouldn't. I didn't want to uproot my kids from their community. I couldn't move in with family. I didn't want to go to a shelter. So.... we stayed. I gained a lot of weight. I ate and ate and ate and ate. I can't explain the feelings of loneliness and desperation. Though I was around family and friends, I had to go home to more degradation every day. I felt I had no self-worth, no reason to be. After 14 years (too long!) he finally agreed the marriage was over and moved out.”
W Springfield MA. Survivor Cathy Thomas, 34, gets renewed R.O.S.E. scholarship, will double her salary with nursing degree
The last time I was abused, the officers who showed up at the house were also employees of the hospital where I work. My embarrassment started there. They grabbed garbage bags and started stuffing my clothes into them. They packed my son’s clothes and a few of his toys. He was taken by my grandmother and I was brought to the emergency room where I work!
Not only did I know the police who helped me pack, who arrested my husband and who took pictures of my injuries; I was treated in the Emergency Room by my own coworkers! It took the embarrassment of this day for me to leave for good.
I was overweight especially after my son was born. My weight became a huge part of my husband’s verbal abuse toward me. I developed an eating disorder with which I still struggle today. If I can help just one person by telling my story, well, that’s one less person stuck in a violent and dangerous situation.
I saw an advertisement for The R.O.S.E. Scholarship in a fitness magazine at the gym. I showed it to my family and they helped me with the application. For the past three years R.O.S.E. Scholarships have helped me get through school. Every penny has been put to good use, from books to tuition.
This past spring I finished my last semester of prerequisites at Berkshire Community College. This summer I am taking required courses at the new school to which I am transferring, Maria College. I have been accepted into their nursing program and will minor in Bereavement Studies which satisfies religion class requirement at this Catholic school. But since I currently work in the level two trauma center of a hospital with life and death struggles happening all the time, the bereavement certificate will be very beneficial to me – if I become an Emergency Room nurse. With a nursing degree from Maria College I could also be hired as charge nurse, clinical leader or even as nursing supervisor of the whole hospital! I have a great interest in cardiac, trauma and domestic violence situations – all of them common in a hospital environment. The R.O.S.E. scholarships have advanced my plans for the future. I will be financially stable after graduation. In fact, my current pay will be doubled when I start earning a nurse’s salary.
I honestly don’t think anybody realizes what R.O.S.E. Scholarships do for a person. They empower those of us who at times have fallen through the cracks. Where others gave up on us, The R.O.S.E. Fund believed in us. When we felt down and depressed, you gave us hope for our future. We have a great sense of pride because of you. I feel a debt of gratitude that I assume other R.O.S.E. Scholarship recipients feel as well. We should all do our best to show our thanks for all that you have helped us to do.
Special Ed Teacher Theresa Peterson, 39, seeks doctorate with R.O.S.E. Scholarship: Making Our Piece of the Planet a Safer Place
My name is Theresa Peterson. I am 39 years old and have two children; ages nine and ten, the abuse I experienced destroyed my self confidence, my self concept. It ruined my sense of self in relation to the world. “How can this be happening?” “How could a man do this to a woman?” ”How could a father hurt his own children?” are questions I asked myself constantly as my sons and I were being battered. But I also lived in denial a long time. Had I left earlier, perhaps he would never have turned his anger and control issues on our then five and six year old sons. I will carry the guilt over what they suffered for the rest of my life.
In hindsight, I knew I would eventually leave. I had stashed some money, birth certificates and other important papers in anticipation of that day. But up until the day I did it, I continued to make excuses for him. When I finally made the decision, it was very clear to me that I had to leave and quickly. I followed my instincts. First I called my son's psychologist and my lawyer. We showed up in court and filed a restraining order against him. I was blessed to have some sensible caring professionals and family who supported my decision. But it wasn’t all predictable and safe. At one point when he started stalking us, we had get ourselves into a hotel for a few nights and to kennel our dog. We had no money to do it. Massachusetts Department of Social Services and other cumbersome, bureaucratic systems were not that helpful in real ways and in real time.
When we did get settled, my boys had severe problems in school. They were recommended for psychiatric hospitalization for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They had forced visits with their dad which only exacerbated my older son’s nightmares and flashbacks.
Though my ex and I have been divorced for three years, and I am truly a survivor, I suffer ongoing “abuse.” He attempts to control me financially via the legal system. He refuses to pay things for our boys that he is obligated to pay. He forces me to run up my legal fees trying to get him to pay. He files for contempt. All this causes physical consequences to my health. I’m being medically monitored.
I became aware of The R.O.S.E. Fund through a women's center here in New England. My first R.O.S.E. Scholarship came at the most perfect time. I didn’t think I’d be able to finish my program of studies but the call came on New Year’s Day 2008 from a woman at The R.O.S.E. Fund saying that I had been awarded the monies. What impact did that have? Wow! Day to day finances became much easier. There was hope. Things could get better. I was reminded that there were good people out there who wanted to help and were in a position to help in a way that was meaningful to me.
I am enrolled in a Northeastern University graduate program that will give me a license to teach special education. I’ve now taken 15 credit hours. With scholarship help from Northeastern and continued R.O.S.E. Scholarship assistance, I hope to pursue a doctorate in this field. I want to use my victim and survivor experiences and my university training to help kids who have been abused themselves or who’ve seen domestic violence in their homes.
Just last week one of my students witnessed his mother being choked by her live-in boyfriend. Luckily his mother had the strength to file a restraining order and get the man out of the house. I’m trying to help this young boy understand that while his world doesn't make a lot of sense right now, school is a safe place for seven hours a day where he can trust that people will not hurt him.
I did not advertise the abuse I suffered --I was quite frightened about what he might do. But I did tell people the truth about what was done to me and, well, somehow it’s all working out. I want to tell victims still suffering that it may take awhile but life will make sense again. It is possible to rebuild a much calmer, happier life. Nightmares will fade into the past. Bad memories will be replaced by more peaceful and gentle realities.
To The R.O.S.E. Fund advocates and supporters, thank you is simply not enough. My real thank you will be finishing my studies and making a difference in the lives of the kids with whom I’ll be privileged to work. The R.O.S.E. Fund reached out anonymously to me with a helping hand. It gave my boys and me an opportunity to start again. Please continue the commitment to support domestic violence survivors at the time when they most need it …and don't always know how to ask for it.
Together we can make our little piece of the planet a safer place to be.
Holyoke, MA survivor Elaine Kennedy, 50, nears BS in nursing as R.O.S.E. Scholar, has “revenge” of financial freedom, helping others
I do have a couple of scars from the physical abuse my ex husband caused me but it has taken me a long time to get past the emotional and mental wounds he inflicted on me. As a matter of fact I nearly lost my physical health because of them. But since I divorced and have headed back to school, I’m pleased to say that remnants of illness are gone.
I do not believe in revenge as a rule. But having my independence and especially my financial freedom from my ex husband is really the sweetest revenge. What is my advice to victims of domestic violence? You can overcome. Just have faith, believe in yourself, have a plan and stay the course. It gets lonely and hard but it is so much better than staying and allowing yourself to be abused in any way.
Nowadays I love giving back. I am involved with foster care for teenagers, with the local Humane Society, with the volunteer ambulance squad. I enjoy playing golf.
Testimonials from participating ROSE surgeons and physicians
I tell M.L. all the time that I got more out of this than she did”, said Dr. Mark Rounds, chief of ENT at Newton-Wellesley and a practicing surgeon at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. “For me to give someone four or five hours of my time... isn’t that the easiest decision you’ve even made? I can spend four to five hours and be really, really happy. How often do you get to say that?”
“These women have the strength to hit rock bottom and come out of it. We’re just stepping in to help erase the physical reminders. It’s more than just appearance. It’s about creating a new start.”
Dr. Richard Gliklich, speaking of a patient who suffered complex nasal fractures, nasal obstruction, and acute nasal deformity from repeated blows to her head, said, “Her nose is the epicenter of her memory of past abuse... the emotional scars go deep. I hope this process will help put some closure on her emotional anguish.”
“As part of the ROSE Fund’s Reconstructive Surgery Program, I have been fortunate enough to be able to assist women who have endured a significant amount of physical and emotional abuse. The ability to reach out to women who are attempting to regain their confidence and put their lives back in order has been unbelievable for me. As a surgeon in the program, I have gained so much personally through my interactions with the recipients.” Babak Azzizadeh, M.D., of the Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Center at the Cedars – Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles (and a former fellow at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary).
When asked about patients who will never look the same, Tessa Hadlock, M.D. of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary replied, “These are people whose lives and faces have been literally and figuratively undone at the hands of abusers, and whose faces will never ever even closely approximate their pre-abuse states. It’s as though they are forced to wear on their faces the permanent marks that have been inflicted far more deeply into their spirits. It is their attitude, that the cup is half full, that teaches me my most important lessons about facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. It's not one patient I have seen this with, not two, but literally every patient who comes through the ROSE Fund program, who looks at herself post-operatively, and embraces the subtle improvements without criticism, and really hangs her hat on the positive changes that are occurring in the face. It is that courage that inspires me, inspires us, and reminds us of the absolutely fundamental privilege it is to be a surgeon. These women, more than any other group, can and do utilize the momentum produced by a positive facial change, and carry it over into the rebuilding of the other aspects of their lives."
FROM THE BLOG