Elder Abuse Institute of Maine (EAIM): Safety at Every Age
“I still can't get over what a miracle Martha's cottage was for me. I know in my soul he would have killed me had I not left when I did. He had talked of killing me before but this time he was more quiet, more resigned to it as if it were inevitable. I just knew it was going to be the end for me and I had to get out.”
Martha’s Cottage is a women-only, transitional home for elder victims of intimate partner abuse, sexual assault and stalking. Run by the Elder Abuse Institute of Maine, this safe, confidential facility allows women 60 years and older to escape abusive relationships that have often lasted for 40 years or more. Traditional shelters do not meet the needs of older people as facilities must be equipped for specific services including increased accessibility. Martha’s Cottage is one of only two transitional housing programs in the country that serve the needs of older women and has been a temporary home for 23 women, ranging in age from 56 to 78 since they opened their doors in 2011.
“I thought I'd just keep growing older and then die,” explained one client of her former life. “You told me to just take each day as it came and promised that I'd feel more comfortable in that safe place [Martha’s Cottage] soon. And I did. I have changed so much since then and have a completely different life. One that I never thought would be possible for me.”
In addition to the transitional housing program, EAIM has helped over 200 men and women from eight Maine counties to access services to help find safety from abuse. They partner with the various Area Agencies on Aging, Family Crisis Services, Safe Voices and the City of Portland and have received funding from the United States Department of Justice and the Maine Women’s Fund.
Of life after decades of cruelty and violence one survivor said this, “I spent time with my family, my brother and his wife, my nieces and nephews and it's such a joy. I am making up for lost time because I was never allowed to see them before. I even take my time grocery shopping knowing there won't be a price to pay. Sometimes I just want to pinch myself because life is this good.”
The Elder Abuse Institute of Maine’s programs assist some of Maine’s most vulnerable women—women who have spent decades trying to survive in the face of abuse—and gives them the support they need to live securely in peace and safety for many, for the very first time.
For more information on EAIM’s work please visit their website.
Posted 04.04.2016 under News and Resources