Christine Rodrigue is one YWCA New Britain’s most active volunteers on the Sexual Assault Crisis Service (SACS) hotline. Prior to becoming a volunteer, she found the courage to leave an abusive relationship, found the strength to heal and rebuild her life, and now advocates for and supports other survivors of violence.
Christine says, “I’ve really come a long way. I’ve gone from victim, to survivor, to thriver.” Here is her story:
Christine had been with her husband in a verbally, physically, and sexually abusive relationship for over 14 years. He would humiliate and belittle her, trash their house in drunken fits, and even strangle her. After an altercation in their home where she feared her children would be harmed, she sought help from the police and filed for a divorce. She was determined he would not hurt her children.
Christine began attending support group meetings to help with her experience with domestic violence when a woman in the group spoke about her own experiences with sexual assault. Christine realized she had been through something similar, but at the time hadn’t realized it was sexual assault. She never addressed that aspect of her abuse. “I never really talked about the sexual part [of my abuse]. You feel like you’re alone and that no one else goes through it.”
From there, Christine contacted YWCA’s SACS program and was referred to Nuriye, an Adult Advocate, to begin individual counseling. She says she, “felt very comfortable. The Adult Advocate was very empathetic, not judgmental.” She also joined a SACS group with other women who had also experienced sexual assault. “I got out how I felt, what was going on,” said Christine.
She soon gained confidence and was finally able to confront her perpetrator. “It was scary and it took months to gather the courage. I felt so empowered by that experience,” said Christine.
Christine has been active as an advocate for justice for victims, even presenting her testimony to the Judiciary Committee regarding pending legislation. “The more I say it, I own it. It’s invigorating. What I say can help someone else. I used to be so shy, wouldn’t talk to anybody. Now I can articulate what happened to me.”
The healing process has helped Christine move on with her life.
Christine has completed her associate degree and bachelor’s degree and is 12 credits into her master’s. In addition, she has taken Counselor Advocate Training classes at the YWCA. Through these classes, she gained the valuable training needed to provide supportive counseling and advocacy to other sexual assault survivors and their families through hotline calls and police and hospital accompaniments. Christine says, “YWCA SACS program is tremendous. The volunteers give all.”
Christine says, “Even though as weak as I felt, my mind and body sometimes, I still push forward. I am not going to let this person define me or tear me down. I want anyone else that has gone through this to know that you have a lot of strength and power. Don’t give up.”