Today, MaryBeth McLeod has her own business making recycled handbags. She hires women who have gone through similar situations of escaping domestic violent relationships. She helps them get free from domestic violence and get their own apartments. Making sure they have jobs and independence gives her more incentive to keep the business going.
While MaryBeth is doing quite well today, it was not always that way. She grew up in Quincy MA where she met her husband and abuser at a dance at the Mission Hill Church. According to McLeod, “Lots of people did not believe that he was hitting me. He was found not guilty for attempted murder.”
To escape, she had to change her name and social security number and run. She says of the local social security office that helped her, “They let me go on with my life. Today I’m safe but that’s what I had to do. That takes courage. Some women have to do that you know. The social security office does have domestic violence cases.”
McLeod says of the women she works with,”They are away from their abusers, independently living, paying market rent. Judy, one of the girls that works with me, was with an abuser at first, now she’s not. She goes to therapy, received a restraining order. It’s good to see women want it more than life. You have to start with your little broken self. Then, one day, your depression is gone and you are okay.”
When asked for advice on how to help other victims of abuse, she says, “Try to tell them they’re beautiful; they’re a rose that’s going to bloom, you have to water it and it will bloom. Do it, you can do it alone, you can love yourself. [You] can make it along as I have, start as yourself and just build. It took 30 seconds or less to put those scars on my face, and takes so long to take them off.”
The ROSE Fund helped MaryBeth by providing her with three free surgeries remove scar tissue around her eyes. She says of the Fund, “The ROSE Fund, you are taking away the scars on the outer side but it’s up to me to take the inner scars out. I really thank God for the ROSE Fund. You guys are there to do the final touches on my face. The ROSE Fund is fabulous; we need more programs like that. Thank God we have come a long way; thank God the ROSE Fund is here.”
On taking care of herself, McLeod says, “If I didn’t take care of myself I wouldn’t be in a position to help anybody.” Truer words were never spoken.