A survivor’s story

Sara’s Story

Sara’s Story

Sara* was referred to CAWC’s Hospital Crisis Intervention Project through the emergency department at Northwestern Memorial Hospital after a severe physical altercation with her current boyfriend. 

Sara, a 27-year-old Asian American female, moved to Chicago from her hometown in Iowa to pursue a Master’s Degree in chemical engineering.

Feeling very alone after moving to Chicago, Sara started using dating applications in order to meet new people. She soon met a charming handsome man who was also studying engineering. The relationship moved quickly, and Sara decided to move in with her boyfriend 6 months after meeting online. After moving in together, the relationship soon became physically and emotionally abusive.

Sara reports that her boyfriend became extremely possessive and controlling. He didn’t want her to go out with any other friends. He forced her to show him her phone calls and texts messages daily. Soon after he became physically violent always crying and apologizing profusely after a physical incident.

Feeling isolated and alone as a result of the abuse, Sara was not sure where to turn for help. Sara feared telling her parents about the abuse. Her parents always described her as a subdued and extremely accomplished child who never caused trouble. Sara worried that her parents would be disappointed her in “failure”.  Due to her boyfriend’s increasingly controlling behavior, Sara had not maintained close connections with her friends or any other family members. 

Sara reported coming home one day after class and being berated by her boyfriend for text messages he found in her phone. Though the messages were about a school project from a male classmate, Sara’s boyfriend lashed out and Sara of cheating on him. Sara endured a night of emotional and verbal abuse from her boyfriend, which escalated to physical abuse.

Sara was beaten severely by her boyfriend and suffered neck and head injury as a result. She was admitted to the Emergency department at Northwestern and HCIP was called.

CAWC’s Counselor/Advocate initially met with Sara at her hospital bedside because Sara’s injuries were too severe for her to leave her room.

Initial counseling sessions gave Sara time to process the abuse that she experienced while healing medically from her injuries. They worked on a Safety Plan and Sara chose to file an order of protection through the state of Illinois. Her order of protection was granted. 

After being released from the hospital, Sara continued to receive weekly counseling at HCIP. Sessions focused on psycho-education on abusive tactics and modalities of control. Sara and her counselor also discussed her relationship with her family and Sara decided to reach out to her mother to begin the healing process with her family.

Since beginning counseling with CAWC, Sara has had no contact with her abuser and reported that she feels more empowered and in control of her own life. Sara told her counselor: “I have a better understanding of myself and I know how to make healthy relationship choices in the future.” 

*Name changed to protect confidentiality.


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