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A Survivor's Journey
November 12, 2018

By Josielyn Marshall

Hello, my name is Josielyn Marshall, I am a survivor!

I am originally from Chicago.  I made the choice to move to Green Bay, WI (don’t make any comments about my Packers!) to give my children a better life. 

As you heard from my video, there were some trials, some heartache but most importantly some successes.

I was in an abusive relationship.  I stayed because I loved him and I felt that as long as he was hurting just me I could make it through and in time he would change.   Or I can change him.  That didn’t happen; after 5 years of abuse, I finally had the courage to go to the police.

They were not able to find him and I was still in fear for me and my children. I chose to leave and come to Minnesota to stay with my sister and her children and make a better life for me and my kids.

I was looking forward to coming to live with my sister, but shortly after arriving in Minnesota, my sister passed away. I quickly made up a new plan to continue to raise her children and mine in the house she was renting. However, when I got back from her funeral, there was a foreclosure notice on the door.  We had nowhere to go.

I called all the shelters on a long list. I was grateful to find Families Moving Forward because they took my whole family, including my adult daughter.

I met lots of different people that showed us compassion, empathy, and love. Some congregations that I remember are Lumen Christi and St. Joseph the Worker. 

While I was in the program, I had a hard time gaining employment due to trying to retrieve my nursing license from Wisconsin. Once I finally received it, I was on the move looking for employment.

I knew I had to be strong for my children so every day; I would pretend/maintain a smile and get my daughters off to school. On some of those days, I would go into Sakinah’s office and cry. I cried for being in a shelter, I cried for losing my sister, I cried for losing my brother while in the shelter, I cried that I wasn’t going to get out of this program by the holidays.

When I received the call for a Permanent Supportive Housing Program, I couldn’t believe I was being blessed with this opportunity to move forward and thought that I didn’t deserve it. 

You know what, I moved out of the shelter on November 20, 2017, right before Thanksgiving. I was so thankful to be in my own place on Thanksgiving, that I invited everyone that had exited the program before me (5 families) to come over for dinner. It was a great day!  

Having a home allows me to feel safe.  It allows me to be stable and strong for my children and not pretend. It allows me to dream, hope and reach any goal I set my mind to because I know I am in a place that I built, I fought for and I achieved for me and my children; like I dreamed about 10 years ago when I left Chicago.  

As I said at the beginning, I am a survivor, not just a survivor of domestic abuse but a survivor of heartache, a survivor of depression, a survivor of no hope, a survivor of fear and a survivor of pain.  Thank you for allowing me to tell my story, for helping me to heal and for supporting me to keep moving forward.  

Josielyn Marshall
Josielyn Marshall is an alumnus of the Families Moving Forward program.