Sara's Extraordinary Story

Triumphing Over Abuse and
Searching for New Beginnings

Sara grew up in Iraq. Her family sent her to the United States to marry a man she did not know, in hopes that she would have a better, safer life and escape the chaos going on in her country. As it turned out, her marriage proved to be a nightmare, when her husband began physically and mentally abusing her.

Learning to Help Herself

When her children started school, Sara began taking parenting classes that provided resources and information about domestic violence. “I realized that if I wanted to leave, I needed a plan for economic independence, so I enrolled in my local community college.”

I lived in this miserable marriage for 10 years. I did not speak any English and had no friends or family I could ask for help.

As a <em>Live Your Dream Award</em> recipient, Sara continues her pursuit to become a teacher and improve public schools
As a Live Your Dream Award recipient, Sara continues her pursuit to become a teacher and improve public schools.

But Sara’s husband did not approve of this decision. He ripped up her high school diploma and refused to let her go. “Eventually, I was able to convince him that I would be able to support him with the loan money I would receive for going to school, and he agreed to let me go.”

Within two years, Sara completed her associate’s degree in pre-elementary special education and graduated with honors. From there, she transferred to a four-year university, and then the abuse escalated. “[One day] my husband drove me to the university to force me to drop my classes, threatening to kill me if I did not. But in the parking lot, I was able to get away from him and call the police. University staff was able to help me find a place for my children and myself in a first step shelter.”

Perseverance through Adversity

Sara felt lost and scared, as leaving a marriage is considered unacceptable in her culture. She’s still fighting legal issues surrounding her divorce, which she says add a painful layer of emotional and financial struggle, but she is happy that she and her children are surviving and moving forward.

Sara continues to work on her bachelor’s degree in elementary special education and will graduate this year. Her dream is to become a teacher and eventually obtain a PhD so that she can help improve her state’s public schools.

Education is so important for mothers because they have a major influence on their children’s education. This award will help me continue my education and graduate, so that I can provide a good example for my children and give back to my community.


Soroptimist relies on the generosity of individuals like you to improve the lives of women like Sara. Your support gives women the help they need to overcome obstacles—like poverty, domestic and sexual violence, and addiction—and follow their education dreams.

Please consider donating. Your gift of $100, $50, or even $10 today will go a long way and will transform the lives of women in need!

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