The women at the shelter, some single, most moms with kids, usually do not look that great when they first arrive.
If they've had to leave in a hurry, they may have few or no extra clothes for themselves and the kids. They're emotionally and sometimes physically exhausted. Many are not allowed to work by their batterer or can't because of his impossible demands for perfection or their depression or health problems. That may limit their wardrobe. Even if they work, he may take their pay and give them an "allowance."
That means they have little money when they arrive and it takes time to get assistance or a job. It takes time to go through all the changes they must make emotionally, socially, legally, and financially until they can be independent and safe.
So "Rayleen" came in dressed in a plain top and jeans. Her hair was pulled back in a tight bun. She wore no make up. She didn't smile. She spoke rarely and showed little emotion when her kids acted up or regressed in an embarrassing manner.
In a few weeks, she'd acquired some more clothes. Perhaps from donations, the other women, or an escorted trip home. One day, she had on a great work outfit. It fit perfectly and looked very stylish.I asked her if she'd gotten a job. She said no, but smiled broadly when I told her how good she looked.
Two weeks later, I was having supper with a couple kids at the shelter when a pretty lady with a gorgeous short haircut sat down near us. We talked a little, but mostly I gave my attention to the kids and after supper played Candyland with one of them.
Meanwhile, another kid at the table started playing with his food. The woman reprimanded him softly but firmly. I looked at her more closely. It was "Rayleen" and she looked so beautiful I hadn't recognized her! I told her this and what a great haircut she had. She smiled and smiled.
She's a new woman outside. She's becoming a new woman inside. And it's all good.