Lizzy married at a very young age into an abusive relationship that only got worse as the years went by. Her parents told her that with time it would get better. After she had her first child, it would get better. After the second child it would get better. It never got better. She was felt shy, scared, and not confident about her ability to be self-sufficient and leave. How could she support her kids? After the situation got worse as time went by, she realized it was time to take matter into her own hands and asked for help.
"Can you help?" is often of the hardest questions a person would ever have to ask. It sounds easy, but when it requires opening yourself up to strangers, feeling vulnerable, and as if your entire life is about to change, its incredibly difficult. Even more, the feeling that you are a burden to others may be the biggest reason why many shy away from asking.
When it came to protecting her children, she knew she would have to brave, no matter what it took. Lizzy turned to a Bay Area non-profit striving to empower women in extremely fragile marital situations to seek help and take advantage of available resources. This organization referred Lizzy to Move Up for the issue of becoming economic self-sufficient from her husband so she could learn how to move on independently from her husband.
Lizzy came to Move Up a quiet and shy woman with an immensely positive attitude. She was willing to do whatever it takes to find her first job but she did not at all understand where to event start. After 25 years in her marriage, she had raised two children, now in school, and her only source of income was providing childcare. Besides that, she had no other work experience.
We told her that this was okay. She was like many others who just want to make ends meet and are extremely ambitious to do so. Fortunately, there is still a job market for these people. We turned to options such as cooking and advertising this on Craigslist, or becoming a driver. What she really wanted was the stability and longer-term benefits that would full-time job including healthcare. Then, she came across the position at the United States Postal Service and asked us if we could help her apply.
After walking Lizzy through the entire application process and clicking submit, she felt excited but ambivalent how she could ever get this job. They asked her to complete a 75 minute online exam. She studied for 3 days straight and passed. They asked her to take an in-person assessment. She stayed up all night the day before to study and passed. Finally, came the in-person interview. Her attitude of confidence and optimism was so clear at this point, they gave her the job on the spot.
Within 6 weeks, Lizzy was able to turn her entire life around. Two months prior, Lizzy and her kids were dependent on their father, afraid to go home, always scared of what type of alcoholic and abusive state they would encounter him. Now, she took the necessary measures to place a restraining order, and has resources to understand where she can acquire healthcare, mortgage loans, and ensure that her daughter's college education can be paid.
What many do not realize, is that this path does not end after your first job. Like Lizzy, there are several things to consider in the path to become self-sufficient. How do you pay your car loans? How do you get out of credit card debt? How can we pay off the mortgage loan? How can you afford a college education? What type of lifestyle can you afford at all?
How can you help? Help us figure out what resources exist that we can offer the women who come to us. The path to economic empowerment is a marathon, not a sprint. Where should we look for help when women are facing all of the problems above even after finding their first job?
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