Survivor Story

A Journey Back to Myself

Hannah has always had a love for learning, but her path to earning a degree was derailed by an unhealthy, violent relationship. She started college at 24, and was earning good grades when she met a man, who seemed, at first, to support her goals. Before long, he began to emotionally influence her. With frequent arguments – sometimes lasting into the night – Hannah had trouble making it to class and staying focused on her studies. Their arguments escalated and became physical, and Hannah retreated from school to hide the obvious bruises. Eventually she failed her classes and was forced to drop out of college.

The turning point came after a particularly violent argument. Law enforcement was called and Hannah was directed to DSVS. Her boyfriend faced multiple charges from kidnapping to partner-family member assault. It wasn’t easy, but Hannah found the help she needed that day and took advantage of therapy offered at DSVS. Through it all, she never lost her love of learning, but since she failed her classes, she was no longer eligible for financial aid. DSVS, with the help of a generous benefactor, helped to pay for her first semester, after which she was again eligible for financial aid. Now, several years later, Hannah is on her way to earning a master’s degree in psychology and hopes to work with veterans.

Hannah was particularly inspired by a passage she read recently that said, “You have to stop living in denial. After you’re out, and the past abuse is out in the open, you are forced to acknowledge it instead of pretending, at least on some level, that it wasn’t happening. This requires you to integrate the awful things that happened to you into who you are, without letting them define you.”

Hannah is now a dedicated volunteer on the DSVS helpline, and because of her experience is able to provide an extra measure of compassion for those who call. We’re honored to have her on our team.


Make a contribution to support healthy relationships.


Share your time and expertise to help others in need.

Domestic and Sexual Violence Services
Red Lodge Office
1119 South Broadway
PO Box 314 • Red Lodge, MT 59068
Office: 406-446-2296
Office Hours: 9-5, M-F

Domestic and Sexual Violence Services
Stillwater Office
565 N. 9th St., Suite 30
Columbus, MT 59019

Subscribe to our free monthly Newsletter!

Skip to content