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Noelle and Valentina

Noelle had been planning to leave her daughter’s father. The abuse was severe and she had had enough. But the timeline accelerated when he crossed another line. “The last time he put his hands on me, he did it in front of our daughter, Valentina,” Noelle said. “The police were called, and I got a restraining order for both of us.”

Noelle met her daughter’s father in 2013. “At first, he was Prince Charming,” she said. “He was so nice. After I had Valentina in 2014, the verbal and emotional abuse started. I started slowly seeing signs that he’d get triggered easily and had mood swings. We had just had a baby, so I thought maybe it was just a lot at once. In 2016, that was the first time he hit me. It was off and on, but enough that I started planning to leave him.”

After Noelle and Valentina left in 2017, they went to stay with family, but her father died later that year. Then, Noelle’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and was told she had three months to live. Hospital staff converted a small waiting area into a room for Noelle and Valentina. They stayed there with Noelle’s mother until she died, exactly three months later.

Noelle and her daughter had nowhere to go, and spent time in a domestic violence shelter before getting to the Mission Nov. 2. “When I left Valentina’s father, I left everything—all of our things, our paperwork,” she said. “That’s how it had to happen. We were living in his mom’s back apartment—I didn’t know where I was going to go. I left everything behind for the sake of my daughter so I could give her a better life.”

Valentina, now 6, has autism. “My daughter doesn’t like change, and it was a lot for her, moving shelter to shelter,” she said. “It took her a while, but now she’s comfortable. She knows the staff, and she’s not shy anymore— she’s come out of her shell. They have so much patience with her and are very loving toward her. She’s happy. Before anything else, she’s happy. That’s what brings me peace.”

Valentina, who was non-verbal before they left, is now even saying some words. “She’s come a long way since we left. She’s in a safe place now.”

Noelle has seen changes in herself too. “I’m better than I’ve been in a long time,” she said. “I do therapy for domestic violence victims on the phone. When I feel anxious—I’m still healing from the abuse—I speak with the staff members. They pray with me and give me words of security. They make me feel comforted.

“I feel blessed every day that I wake up with a roof over my head, warm covers and a blanket, clothing, love, support. They’ve gone above and beyond for us here. This was the peace I needed in my life.”

Noelle said she’s regained her faith. “I feel that the Mission has not only kept me and my daughter safe, but it’s brought me closer to God,” she said. “I know I was brought here to grow that relationship with him. Wherever God leads me next, that’s where I’m meant to be. God has bigger plans for us, for my healing. The staff has helped me reset my mindset. If I have a dilemma or I’m hitting a wall, I go to them, I ask for prayer, for guidance. Some staff members are such prayer warriors for me. Some have such great advice and always help lead me to the right decision.

“My faith and the peace I have in my heart is because of God and because the shelter gave me an opportunity to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

Since I’ve found that, it’s given me the peace to sleep at night. I never could sleep with all the anxiety and stress.”

Noelle is receiving help finding housing and already has a job lined up—she’s just waiting on a special needs day care. “Josie (Casarrubias, program director) tells me that when God’s ready, he’ll move me to the next step,” Noelle said. “It’s been such a peaceful process with no pressure. They want me to be comfortable here. I don’t have any family anymore. I used to feel so alone. Now I feel like my family is here.

“When you put God first, everything else will work itself out.”

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