Congratulations to Broadview resident Fatuma* for earning a $3,300 scholarship to pursue her education! Fatuma has been at Broadview since September 2016 and recently moved into permanent housing. We are so proud of her perseverance and strength, and know she will be an amazing advocate and lawyer. The following is her winning essay.
“Ever since I was little, I wanted to be the first in my family to attend university. At first I wanted to be a nurse, but now I know my life purpose is to be an advocate and lawyer for women that have been through what I went through.
“I was in an arranged marriage when I was 16, and my husband did not support my educational dreams. He became physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive to me and moved our family from Angola to Washington, isolating me from my family. He tried to control me, sent me back to Angola, and separated me from my kids.
“I was crying every night, wanting to die without my kids, but I had faith and fought very hard to get them back. I fought for four years to get all three of my kids back, and finally was able to leave his abusive home and enter a domestic violence shelter. I knew it was going to be hard, but I’d rather sleep on the floor a thousand nights than go back to his abuse.”
“The next six months was the most stressful time in my life. My pain stayed between me and God; in front of my kids, I smiled and tried to hide the trauma from them. I was so scared, stressed, and sometimes felt like I couldn’t continue, but when I looked at my kid’s faces I knew I had to persist.
“At the first shelter, we could only stay for 30 days, and when it was time to move I had to pretend it was a game to keep moving around so my kids wouldn’t worry. The next shelter I went to was very difficult to live at with three kids; we had to leave at 6am and go across town to a different facility to shower. I don’t have any family here so we had nowhere to go. Can you imagine having nowhere to go with your 7-year-old son, 5-year-old daughter, and 3-year-old son?
“Over the next six months, my three children and I stayed in five different shelters trying to find help. I’ve never been so stressed. Along with all the chores and rules at the shelter, I also had to pursue a Protection Order against my husband to protect me and my kids. He called my family and friends threatening to kill me; I couldn’t sleep at all even though I was so exhausted.
“He took all the kid’s documents, passports, birth certificates, and put his sister as their legal guardian, so it was incredibly difficult for me to register them in school or go to the doctor. I was terrified to send them to school because I thought he would pick them up and take them from me again. The constant stress was almost too much to bear, but I knew I had to stay strong for my children.
“I am now in transitional housing,** and when my kids go to school I go to Seattle Central to earn my high school diploma. At first I was going for my GED, but my teacher told me I was too smart for that and I deserve to earn my high school diploma. When I first started at Seattle Central, I didn’t know what to do. My mind was so mixed up from all the trauma and I had never been to university before. I stopped going to school in 10th grade because I got married. My teachers and counselors at Seattle Central supported me and offered me the guidance I needed.
“Now, I’m very motivated to earn my associates degree so I can attend a 4-year university and become a lawyer. I want to help women that are in my situation and support their bravery. I know what it’s like to have an abusive partner and have to fight for your life.”
“I’ve seen some women I was in the shelters with just return to their abusers because life in the shelter was too hard. The advocates would talk down to us and make us feel so low. I want to make a positive impact in survivors’ lives and prove to them they can overcome any obstacle, no matter how hard or what people say to them.
“Nothing comes easy, and life is a journey. I want my journey to mean something, and I know I need education to make that possible. In my dreams, I am a lawyer and feel most like myself.”