Darnella’s smile can light up a room; those who attended our Opening Doors fundraiser this May know that firsthand. What you can’t see behind the smile is everything she went through to get to where she is now.
In April of 2019, Darnella decided she’d had enough of the abusive relationship she was in. She was tired of doing sex work to support her abuser financially. She’d had enough of cruelty, of being taken advantage of.
But still, Darnella found herself between a rock and a hard place: leaving her situation meant giving up her home, which was at least shelter. Staying, on the other hand, meant more abuse and mistreatment.
Domestic abuse is the leading cause of homelessness for women—and like spinning whirlpools, both abuse and homelessness can trap you in a cycle that feels impossible to escape.
Darnella made the incredibly courageous choice to leave, and she came to Deborah’s Place.
Pregnant and looking for a way forward, Darnella found a refuge at Teresa’s Interim Housing: a 120-day transitional program at Deborah’s Place that helps women bridge the gap between homelessness and stable, permanent housing. There, she learned ways to cope with her trauma and tools for the life she wanted to build. Darnella will be the first to tell you that it wasn’t an easy or smooth journey—“there were a few times I should have been put out. But Miss Tiffany [Isom] saw that I wanted better, she saw that I was trying. Miss Tiffany wanted better for me.”
With their willingness to meet her where she was, the staff at Deborah’s Place earned Darnella’s trust. “They showed me what my life could be like without my abuser,” she says. “They taught me how to be a good and nurturing mother.”
Today, Darnella has achieved so many of her goals. She and her son, now 3 years old, live together in their own apartment. She supports them by working at an upscale restaurant, and is now pursuing a new goal: working for a non-profit herself. Alumnae Services Manager Gwen Johnson is helping with mock interviews. Darnella says “I want to be that supportive person. I wouldn’t have made it this far in my life if it wasn’t for me going to Deborah’s Place. I feel like that’s the path I need to be going on.”
There are still bumps and curves in the road—like a fire that burned down her Section 8 apartment earlier this year, forcing Darnella and her son to relocate. Yet through setbacks and challenges, Darnella has persevered with resilience and fortitude. She’s investing in her own healing and raising her son in a loving home. She is determining her path, and we can’t wait to see where she goes from here.
Your support of Deborah’s Place makes this possible. Donate today to help us continue to open doors of opportunity.