Abuse survivor proud of accomplishments

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 30, 1999

Jo Ellen Welch came to the Guardian Shelter in July 1998 out of pure desperation. The 42-year-old mother of two looks back on that time as another life.

&uot;It was the start of my life,&uot; Welch said.

In an hour of desperation in an abusive relationship, Welch phoned the Guardian Shelter for Abused Families.

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&uot;I didn’t know (the Guardian Shelter) existed,&uot; Welch said. &uot;I got the phone number out of the phone book.&uot;

When she first arrived at the shelter, Welch said she was full of emotion.

&uot;When I got there I was full of fear, anxiety, anger,&uot; she said. &uot;But everyone’s professionalism rose above personalities and emotions. They really help you get back on your feet.&uot;

Originally from Hawaii, Welch has lived all over the country and lived in Woodville before entering the shelter and settling in Natchez.

Life with her former husband was &uot;insane,&uot; Welch said. &uot;When you live in that environment, you don’t know you’re sick,&uot; she said. &uot;Once you get out of the denial, then you can start emotional change.&uot;

Getting out of that environment was the first, critical step to recovery for Welch.

Had she not reached that crisis moment, Welch said she may never have left the abusive situation.

&uot;It’s easier to depend on a bad situation than to be alone in an unknown situation,&uot; Welch said.

Married multiple times, Welch said she always seemed to be attracted to the wrong person.

&uot;When you feel so unworthy, you do self-destructive things,&uot; she said.

In Welch’s case, she said she sought out abusive mates. &uot;It’s the same personality, just a different person,&uot; she said.

During her 30 days in the Guardian Shelter, Welch sought counseling, found a job and got a new life.

She lived for eight months in an apartment above the shelter until she could support herself outside of that protective environment.

The Guardian Shelter provided Welch with not only a place to stay and food to eat, but with transportation to appointments and job interviews.

&uot;My job has been the best thing to happen to me,&uot; Welch said.

Three weeks after her fateful call to the Guardian Shelter, Welch landed a job with Mississippi River Corporation and has stayed with them ever since.

&uot;That was one of my biggest accomplishments – staying with one job for one year,&uot; she said.

She continues to work at Mississippi River Corporation as a lab technician and sees her sons and a grandson when she can.

Each son is in a different branch of the armed forces, and her grandson is in Fort Worth, Texas.

&uot;I’d tell anyone else out there to take a chance,&uot; she said. &uot;How long are you going to live in misery? You don’t want it, and you don’t need it.&uot;

The Guardian Shelter is one of the community agencies funded by the United Way of the Greater Miss-Lou.