The events that finally prompted me to seek help through Domestic Abuse Intervention Services were traumatizing and left me feeling ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, and numb; detached from any and all emotion. By the time I called asking for information, I was prepared to die. I think I even anticipated it. Not only was I living in fear every day of what might happen to me, but I had completely given up on myself. I was in so much pain, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I couldn’t do it anymore. I lost all hope, and I hated myself. When I called for help, I had no idea what services could be offered or if there even was anything that anyone could do to keep me safe. The person who I talked to that night was so nice and patient with me. She must have been able to tell that I was scared, but she gave me all the information I needed and got me to where I needed to be: the shelter. I almost didn’t end up going, but something in her voice seemed comforting and safe and I went. That decision changed my life. Throughout my stay there, I had constant support from both the other women living there and all of the staff members. It was the first time in a long time that I didn’t feel alone and worthless and pathetic. I saw the other women as strong, smart, funny, amazing, and inspiring. By talking with the staff and my caseworker, I gradually started having important and life-changing realizations. They helped me actually believe that none of what happened was my fault. Almost everyone it does happen to thinks they should have done something different or been different in some way and they blame themselves because of that. But no matter what was different, it still could have happened. It was never in our control to begin with and that's not our fault. We aren't to blame. I am not to blame. Being able to accept that finally allowed me to start healing. And with that, I was able to forgive the person who hurt me, which is for my sake only. I’m not angry anymore. Really, I feel sad for him because he’ll never know love or compassion with all the hate he must have in his heart. But by forgiving him, it’s as though I am no longer connected to him, and he has no control over me anymore. He will never be able to hurt me again. I finally feel free. I’ve also finally forgiven myself for everything. I understand now that my negative ways of coping and the harm I've caused myself weren’t because I hated myself. I was surviving, and whether they were bad or good, my instincts kept me alive, and that’s the most important thing. My experience at the DAIS shelter saved my life. I’m not only surviving now, but I’m finally starting to live. I feel incredibly lucky to have ended up where I did, because the journey has been beautiful. I’ll never be able to convey how appreciative I am and how much the people there mean to me. They will forever be my role models and my heroes.