For abuse survivors in shelter, back-to-school shopping is stressful, impossible

Battered Women and Children's Shelter in desperate need of school supplies

SAN ANTONIO – They've escaped violence at the hands of a family member, they're living in a shelter for safety and now they have to shift focus to school supplies. For families at the Battered Women and Children's Shelter, back-to-school shopping is stressful, and for some, it's next to impossible.

Leaving an abuser is dangerous, and it's usually done quickly.

"We got out of a very toxic environment, so we got up and just left everything behind," said a mother who has been living in the shelter for one month now.

She and her children are not being identified for their safety.

They were able to safely leave their home after a violent incident and make it to the shelter.

"We just came with the clothes on our backs, literally. We come here and, you know, they actually offer clothing. We give them our sizes and they provide for us," she said.

One month into their healing process, it's back-to-school time.

"I'm gonna go to first grade," her daughter said with a big smile.

It can be exciting for little ones, but scary for mothers. Some women would be putting themselves in danger by going back-to-school shopping in public.

"Being here, we're not able to shop the way we used to, so with donations, we're able to get school supplies and get our kids ready for school," the mother said.

The federal McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act states homeless or displaced families can choose any school district for their children. Many in Bexar County require uniforms, so many of the children at the Battered Women and Children's Shelter will need multiple uniforms.

The greatest need right now is for uniforms and clear or mesh backpacks. Those backpacks will be stuffed with all the supplies students will need.

"It is awesome," the mother said. "It's amazing, and it's a blessing to be here."

She has a message to survivors stuck in abusive homes who are afraid to leave everything behind.

"Don't worry about the material things, because they can be replaced," she said. "Your happiness is more important than staying in a toxic environment and putting your children through that."

The shelter is falling short of its school supplies goal, so any donation, small or large, will make a big difference.

For information on how to donate, call Family Violence Prevention Services at 210-733-3536.

About the Author:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.