Kristine* was just a few weeks away from finishing high school when she was sexually assaulted by a close family member.
As the world spun around her, Kristine felt shaken to the core. Her life was shattered.
Fearing further abuse, Kristine left home and sought refuge in a local women’s shelter. As questions about her future rolled through her mind, she felt hopeless.
What if she couldn’t heal from the trauma of the assault? Would that hold her back from getting a good job? Without a career, how would she ever be able to support her younger sister’s schooling and her mom’s medical bills?
A Glimmer of Hope
Kristine felt a glimmer of hope when a social worker introduced her to 10ThousandWindows.
“Little did I know that decision would open a lot of opportunities for me.”
Like all 10ThousandWindows survivors, Kristine started in the workplace skills program and worked with her Career Counselor to craft a plan for her future. Her counselor saw her aptitude for learning and her dream of gaining a college education and suggested she take college entrance exams.
Kristine thought about it and decided to go for it. She wanted to be trained to support other women who faced challenges just like she had.
“I realized that I have an innate passion for helping other people,” she said.
When Kristine received the results of her entrance exam, she was thrilled to see she had passed and was accepted into a social work program at her local university.
The Start of a New Life
Kristine’s first year of college was challenging, but the skills she learned at 10ThousandWindows helped her navigate a new learning environment.
“I applied the time management insights I learned from the soft-skills training on how to go about my exams,” she said.
Over the next four years as she pursued her college degree, Kristine often drew on the support of 10ThousandWindows staff and the workplace skills she learned.
It paid off.
In May this year, Kristine graduated at the top of her class with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.
During the years it took her to gain her degree, one moment stands out for Kristine with particular poignancy. One day during her social work practicum earlier this year, Kristine drafted client case studies and remembered vividly the time not so long ago where she had been the client talking about the future with her own social worker. Then, she found it impossible to believe her life could turn out differently.
“All these people who supported me throughout my journey gave me strength. It helped me to cope with my struggles and persevere in college,” she said.
Now, Kristine intends to pass the board exam for social workers and work for a non-profit organization.
“This is not the end, but just the beginning of my new life. I am happy and thankful for all the people who have helped me reach this point, my 10ThousandWindows family. Without a scholarship from 10ThousandWindows, I cannot imagine what my life would have become.”
Kristine is one of seven 10ThousandWindows survivors to graduate from college so far in 2019. Nineteen other survivors have graduated from high school this year.
*Pseudonym to protect survivor privacy