Stephanie’s Story


“I used to never talk…I never looked people in the eye….My abuser wouldn’t let me work–he cut me off from everything. Around my abuser, I’d been hiding my Bible–when I got to FLS, I was able to see again.”

That any mom would speak these words is painful to imagine. But Stephanie’s bitter reality came to light during her interview for housing at FLS, when it became apparent to staff that this brave mom was in a dangerous situation.  FLS immediately linked arms with TESSA, setting in motion a safety plan for Stephanie and her three daughters to leave her physically and emotionally abusive partner. Gaining an apartment at FLS was a rescue that ushered in a peace Stephanie hadn’t felt in years.

“Before my abuser, I’d been happy and capable. But I’d become a completely different person in order to survive. I changed because of him—I never spoke up. He’d use my ‘gaze’ to oppress me, so I was trained to never look people in the eye, out of fear.”

FLS gave Stephanie space to breathe and step by patient step restored her confidence as the dignified head of her household. Her true self emerged. Fear melted away. The faith she’d known as a child grew as in a greenhouse of grace. When she had doubts, fellow moms and trauma-informed staff redirected her. The roadblocks to her growth were many, Stephanie admits, and it often felt she was failing again. But, “the amount of grace FLS shows moms in the many ups and downs….the patience and time to figure things out when twists and turns happen….that grace built my faith.”

Each single mom at FLS receives a personal coach. Stephanie credits her coach, Jamie, for pointing her to the right Scripture when growth felt hard. “Jamie’s very wise. I felt like I was never being judged. She’s a good re-director, always helping me refocus when I was freaking out.”

Each single mom at FLS also connects in close community, gathering in group each Monday night. “You’re not alone,” reflects Stephanie. “You’re all in the same situation. Monday nights just fill you. They’re such a relief—a reset for each week no matter if you’re in a valley or on a mountain. I learned how much community matters.

Stephanie’s now building community in her new home, where she’s recently launched into stable housing with her girls. By God’s grace, she lives next to another former FLS resident. Once a week, they form their own little ‘group,’ having learned from time together on campus the importance of community. “I have to have it in my life!” Both moms attend Women of Courage at FLS monthly, continuing the healthy pattern they learned as residents.

As for the scared woman who never talked and kept her gaze down? Through coaching and community, she’s learned the tools to break out of that oppression: “FLS brought out the old me. I found my independence and confidence to lead. I looked people in the eye, without fear. With my job, I learned how to budget my finances—I’d never done that before. Now I have a safety net in my savings, and my long-term goal is to own my own home.”

Being a single mom is still hard. FLS doesn’t take away the hard, but rather offers single moms the tools they need to face the hard with resilience. Stephanie, no longer in danger and delighted to share her story, feels equipped and free. Free to attend her church and to read her Bible at night after tucking her girls in bed, with no need to hide her flourishing faith. Free to use her voice to encourage other moms. Free to be herself and to build a new future.

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