eaten off the floors. I was dead inside, a zombie, I felt nothing. One morning after a night of his continual screaming and repeated punches to my head, I decided I HAD TO LEAVE. I was determined that my boys and I were leaving that very day or else I would end up dead. If necessary, we would pitch a tent in the woods nearby. I promised my eldest when he got home from school that we would leave. My words fell on deaf ears, he had heard it too many times; the times we did leave, we always went back.
We DID leave that day and haven't been back in almost 12 months. Neither leaving nor the past 12 months have been easy, exactly the opposite, they've been hard at times, very hard. Overall though, very rewarding and wonderful. We spent two months at the VRC shelter. The people there are a Godsend! I would tell anyone who would listen - it's because of the VRC staff that I became a strong, independent person, but now I know it's because of me. I now know that I haven't returned because I am strong, because of ME! I make all my decisions now; the staff at the VRC showed me I could; they supported my decisions. Everyone there had my tears on their shoulders at one point in time, but no one ever told me what to do, only that I had options; showed me them and walked beside me.
For years I heard I was nothing and would never be able to get a job, raise my boys, and that no man would want me, no one would like me the way I was. Well guess what? I've proved all that to be untrue! I have a wonderful job, my boys and I have a beautiful HOME, I have great friends, men have asked me on dates, and lots of people like me just for me. It's not always great; some days I get scared, stressed, or just plain tired. The knowledge that I have control over my life makes it all worth it! Life is tough; by taking back control, wonderful things do happen. My children and I are so happy and free. My advice to women still being abused - TAKE BACK CONTROL!!! If you can survive domestic violence, you can survive anything. Going from a 'victim of domestic violence' to a 'survivor of domestic violence' gives you a feeling inside that is indescribable; it's being free again."
"My husband was a great husband up until a few years ago. He then began threatening to shoot me and my children. Because they were teenagers, we fought back but he broke my ribs, hurt my back, giving me a black eye and other inflictions. He found us near a shelter in another county. My children wanted to see their daddy, and I went back. I tried to make our marriage work - we were married for over 20 years. I started working to help support the family. He would give me a little money to purchase all the groceries, medicine, clothing for the kids, car repairs, gas for work - all which was impossible to do on such a small amount of money. He began making false accusations about me, and told me that he was going to teach me a lesson on how a real wife behaves. He broke my arm, and I was bruised and cut. After this, I decided to leave. I left with nothing, but I was not taking it anymore. He would stalk me at work and wherever I went. He would cancel my car insurance, take my plates off the car, all to control me. When I finally left, I just started driving. I ended up in Wayne County. I had a domestic violence card in my purse from 1995. I called the number and they gave me the number of the VRC hotline. I called the VRC and they have been my 'backbone' since. I would not have made it without them. The shelter advocate is strong-willed and outspoken, but with a good heart. I thank God and the VRC every day. I love where I am right now. I know I can be stronger and do this on my own. The VRC saved my life! At night when I go to bed, I think, 'Am I doing the right thing?' and then I look at pictures of my children and grandchildren, then I know I did the best thing I ever could by leaving. My pearl of wisdom is reach out to the VRC, you can get away and be free from threats, hurt, pain, and be strong. If I could do this after 20 years, so can you!"
"When I was a child, my brother started 'pressing against me' sexually. I was just a kid. I was so confused I thought I must me gay if my brother is doing this to me. Not long after it started my parents divorced and we were in separate households. He lived with another family member and I lived with my mom. He continued to molest me while on visits. I told my mom and she didn't believe me until she caught my brother having sex with me. She called the authorities and they didn’t really do anything, but told my mom we could not live in the same house. I hated him and he continued to make my life hell. His friends called me names. I felt so alone. My mom was my best friend. I thought it was her job to protect me. I figured it was my fault if I reached out for help and nothing was done. Now I know that telling just once may not be the answer and that kids today have to keep telling until someone LISTENS. I’ve worked on my bruised feelings and confusion about my life.
I started having troubles in school as I got older with dating relationships, etc. I could not focus on my academic calendar, only my personal life. My mom found the number to the Victim Resource Center because she knew I had unresolved issues from the abuse, and now as a teen, was having trouble. I met with the Sexual Assault and Youth Counselor who reinforced for me that the abuse was not my fault. I learned that I am no longer a victim but a survivor and that I have CONTROL over that, no one else does. My brother took my control away and I have it back now. I have learned that just because my abuse was in a same sex manner, does not mean that I am gay. My brother had no right to take advantage and hurt me the way he did. I’ve learned that wishing that he was dead is not the answer because that anger hurts only me. My abuse no longer defines me and encompasses every moment of my life like it used to. I’ve learned I’m a good friend, enjoy listening to music, and just plain talented. As far as my brother goes now, I feel sorry for him and no longer look for some sort of revenge. I’m special. I deserve respect. I am a survivor."
"I had been out drinking with some friends after work. I had seen the kind of freaky person from my building complex. I didn’t think much of it. I had seen him in passing when I went to my apartment, but he showed up at the local bar. He sat at the bar while the girls and I were dishing out the week’s drama. I had to use the Ladies Room so I took my drink with me because I knew my girlfriends would be busy dancing and not pay attention to it. I had learned in college to keep my drink covered or take it with me. I didn’t realize it at first but he had followed me into the bathroom. When I came out of the stall he was standing there. I screamed at him, 'What are you doing in here?' He stated, 'Oh, sorry.' I had left my drink on the sink in the bathroom. Not thinking, I went back to the table and started to eat dinner with my friends and finish my drink.
About halfway through dinner I felt really weird and thought I was going to be sick so I decided to go home. I told my friends to stay and have a good time despite them insisting on walking me home. I remembered putting my key in the apartment door and a man being behind me. I woke up the next morning and my clothes were ripped and my private area hurt. I remembered having this feeling of weightlessness and sitting in the bathroom but could not remember anything else. My friend came over the next day and asked me if I was okay because she saw scratches on my back and my clothes were ripped. I told her what I could remember. She stated that I needed to go to the hospital and get checked out. She told me she didn’t think anything of it at the time but that man from our complex had left about 5 minutes after I did.
I went to the emergency room where they were very concerned about the gaps in my memory and they were worried that I had been sexually assaulted. The hospital did a urinalysis and I tested positive for date rape drugs. Oh my God! What happened? That weightlessness I felt must have been someone carrying me. I now remember seeing the reflection of this man’s face in the hallway mirror at my apartment that night. The nurse at the hospital gave me the number to the Victim Resource Center where I was able to obtain counseling, court advocacy, and the feeling of knowing I wasn’t crazy or alone. That meant all the difference in the world to me, and certainly helped me in my healing. Always protect yourself and reach out to the VRC if you need help, they will provide counseling and support. They will be beside you in all the steps to healing."
"I came to the VRC after fleeing a domestic violence situation with my husband. While he had just gone to jail, his family began threatening to harm me and found out the location of my new home. I was not allowed to work, and there was ongoing verbal and physical violence. We had three beautiful children. They love their father but feared him.
A neighbor told me about the Victim Resource Center. They had helped her. From the moment I spoke with a counselor at the VRC I felt as if there was help, and to this day, they continue to help me. My children and I are now safe. I have my self-respect. They helped me legally with securing custody and an order of protection, and provided emergency shelter for our family twice. My children love going to their office, they act like it is their second home. They play and climb the stairs and run into everyone's office to say hello. I have my own home now, nice things, a job and a LIFE! I look forward to a good life. The VRC is an outstanding group of caring and understanding women who are willing to hear your story, help you stand tall, and be by your side. Thank you to the VRC for being by my family's side!"
"I was raised in a Christian home. I was saved more out of fear, but my commitment was real. I tried to please God and my family as I grew. My mom made God real to me and part of my life. My dad made me feel comfortable with being human and making mistakes. My dad had some mental health issues and was hospitalized a few times. My mom prayed and endured. In my early years I began to rebel, experimenting with drugs, sex, alcohol, and even the occult. When I turned 18 I moved in with a family member and took some different jobs. I was getting restless with doing things my own way and not finding peace or happiness. I felt that God would not have anything to do with me because of my poor decisions. I prayed and felt God say, 'Give me your life.' I prayed to God and told Him, 'You can have my life, but it is a pile of junk.' Soon after that I worked for a Christian boss who showed me constant encouragement, so I went to a Bible School and graduated. I went on to take some courses in the medical field.
Soon after that, I met my husband at church. He was handsome and swept me off my feet. After a few months he asked me to marry him. I told him of my past and he said he had no problem with my past. He began pressuring me to sleep with him, convincing me that I had slept with others, and he was going to marry me. I gave in against my better judgment. After sleeping with him, he began to pull away and did not want to marry me. Even at the alter, I was not sure he was going to show up. My father advised me to let him go. I should have listened to my Father in Heaven, and my father here on earth. My new husband was always concerned about money. Money was always a source of conflict. At first I reasoned it was good to save. He inherited enough money to purchase a small house. I did everything he wanted to keep the peace. We then had our first child. I was very tired. There was a great deal of arguing and then the verbal abuse became physical. He began staying out all night and then confessed his adultery. The violence continued. I took my child to my parents. I knew the violence was not right, pulling my hair, shoving me down, hitting me in the face, but I excused it. Well-meaning friends were the ones that convinced me to return to my husband. I even heard a sermon stating how one woman was beaten regularly by her husband and kept witnessing to him, and how after he killed her, he became a Christian. The sermon was that God honored her giving her life by saving his soul. It sounded noble and heroic, but this is a lie from the deceiver. Our salvation comes through accepting Jesus as our Savior, not having to die. That is what they teach in the Muslim lands, that you have to die violently to go to paradise. Women should seek justice and protection for themselves and for their children.
I pleaded with my husband to return home. He moved in with his family. One time, during the visitation, he took our son with his girlfriend and I absolutely panicked that he would not return my son. About a year later he moved back 'temporarily' with us. He never left again. Two dear pastor friends encouraged me to seek a divorce, but I was sure my troubles were a result of my sinful youth and justly deserved. He never repented of his adultery. There was a small window of time that I thought things would improve and we could live happily ever after. Life was generally peaceful as long as I did everything he wanted, his way. I then became pregnant with a second child. I stayed home, hoping this would make my husband happy. But nothing would really make him happy. He tried to isolate me from my family and friends, and eventually the pressure became too much and I cut most of my ties with these important and valuable family members and friends. Now my entire life revolved around my husband, children and home. I had to go from church to church because he would find fault with all of them, though he would not attend, saying they were full of hypocrisy, and he would worship God at home. When it was time for our third child, he kept telling me that he would take time off of work and we could move to a larger home and enjoy the fruits of our labor. We now had enough money saved to live a good life. My husband began to work at home, but did not help out except with the school work for the children. Our rocky life continued, but we never moved to a larger home because I finally realized it was a power and control issue. My husband treated our oldest child badly, always demeaning our child.
My husband convinced his parents to purchase an Internet contract for our home, while we could have certainly afforded it. Finally, I realized that my husband was addicted to online pornography. He eventually reached out to study the Bible with others. While it is a long story, there were other issues. Over the next several years, my life became a nightmare. My husband had several breakdowns. Over these years there were late night interrogations about my past, he began making us wash when we came home, accusing us of carrying germs. It continued to worsen because everything was contaminated. It was easier just to stay home. Our eldest child began to refuse this cleansing ceremony, and strangely that was fine with my husband, because my husband reasoned he was not close to our eldest child. My husband began to burn our furniture because it was contaminated by my family or others. He even washed our camera because he had taken a photograph that had a past friend of mine in the picture. The camera was now contaminated. He reached out to therapists, doctors, but he called so much, they would not meet with him. He refused to come into their office and wanted all therapy to be completed over the phone. If I did not get up in the middle of the night to do what he wanted, he would break dishes, turn over tables, and throw things. If I would not give in, he would make the children get up in the middle of the night and pray telling them I did not care. I tried everything but could not help him. We had plenty of money but everything had to be purchased second-hand.
I know that others have suffered through worse. I did not want my life spent on serving one who would never love me. I began to question God and all the good rules I had learned. Why did He not help me when I was doing my best to obey Him? Could God be speaking through the therapist who threatened to have my children taken away if I did not provide a peaceful home? I always knew my children deserved a peaceful home and I did my best, but my husband's behavior was out of my control. Where was God when my husband held me down with his hand over my mouth almost suffocating me? I felt my husband's strength and I was afraid of death. Did God hear my unspoken prayer for life that turned the next minute to a cry for death. 'Oh Lord, if I could just be a better wife, things would not be so bad. I will try harder. I will be better. God please take my life and send someone better, someone who could make my husband happy, who would be a better protector of my children. Please take me home with you.'
One night coming home, after accompanying my eldest child to receive an award, I began to pray. My eldest child deserves a parent to honor him - doesn't he God? I have done nothing for this child in the past few years, as every attempt to love him is viewed as a betrayal to my husband. If I care, my child's father will hate this child, so I must distance myself. But not this day, this day I will honor my child. We finally arrived home, and we were locked out again. I looked through the door and saw my middle child embracing the youngest, who was asleep. 'God bless my child, for taking care of the baby.' I called my husband from a friend's home and pleaded with him to let me return home, and pleaded for forgiveness in leaving him for this event. In my heart, I will never leave my children home alone with their father again. I have failed again. He finally let us return home, but keeps me up all night. I used to want to sleep next to him, but now I am glad to sleep on the floor near my children. I am glad to get away from him. Each day I ask, 'What will the day bring? Will it be a peaceful day? Will it be a frightening day?' We now have enough money to retire, but my husband resents me everyday in sharing 'his hard earned money.' I start to question, 'Is he acting this way to get rid of me? Why does he believe that someone would stay with him day in and day out while he acts and reacts to everything in a frightening and abusive manner?' I continue to pray, 'please make him love me God, but most importantly, take care of my children, they are Your children. Show me what You want, make me do what is right.'
Another spring day, new hope. Perhaps life will get better. I sit on a bench watching children play at school. I look at others and feel alone. Moms together talking about candle parties and children. Money spent on useless things. What would that feel like? I have enough food and clothing, but wouldn't it be nice, at least once, to have a nice birthday party for my children? Things do not make us happy, it is the love of family. We actually have more money than many of these people put together, but I am not allowed to spend any of this money. We ride home on our bikes to save gas, and that keeps him happy. We arrived home and the door was locked again. My child said, "Oh no, he has locked the door again." He found out I was looking for a job and an apartment. He is furious with me, threatening me. I am packing up, trying to grab everything while he is sleeping. He wakes up and is pleading with me not to leave. He screams, "It is not God's will!" I tell him that it is not God's will for our children to live like this. He makes the children come in and pray, and continues to scream, "We are under attack, we are doing God's will and Satan hates it." I inform him that if I don't leave, the state will come in and take our children. He leaves with the children and I am about to call the police for the fourth time. The police have always been good to me. They gave me papers to call the Victim Resource Center. The police ask if I am safe and I always lie and say yes, I am safe and he hasn't hurt me. I just want him to get help. The police come again and my husband calls. They track his call and go and pick him up. My husband's behavior is erratic and they take him to the hospital. I call the hospital to find out when he will be released so we can be gone from our home. The hospital will not release the information so I become angry and tell them that I need to know so I can move out before he returns. The next day I went to the Victim Resource Center to request a restraining order. I was pretty hysterical. I did not want to do this, but I knew I had to protect myself and my children. They helped me understand and encouraged me to make decisions to keep my family safe. I wish there was a clear cut line between abuse and bad behavior, and a line between sanity and insanity. I think the line is not on the outside somewhere, but down on the heart. I do not know the answer to this, but I do know that God hears our prayers and wants to help us. 'I will lift up my eye unto the hills. Where does my help come from? It comes from God, maker of heaven and earth.' I am now in my own home with my children, away from fear and abuse. My children struggle with the separation, but I know that when they are older, they will understand that I made a decision to end the abuse, and provide them with a safe future, away from abuse. They will understand that they can come home to peace and unconditional love. Reach out to the Victim Resource Center, they will help you on this journey. But most importantly, reach out to our Lord. He is always with you."
Una Misiva de una Sobreviviente
"Cuando conocí al papa de mis dos niños el sabia que yo tenia una niña. El me acepto así y al principio me dijo que la querrá igual que a sus propios hijos. Pero al pasar el tiempo no fue así. A los dos años de vivir juntos nació mi segundo hijo. Fue un poco después del nacer que yo decidí traer a mi hija de mi país de origen para que viniera a vivir con nosotros. Cuando llegamos para reunirnos con mi pareja la situación cambio por completo. Todo lo que me hija hacia o decía le pareció mal a el. Mi pareja me quejaba casi constantemente que yo le daba más atención a mi hija que a el y nuestro hijo.
Un día el estaba tomado y golpeo a mi hija enfrente de mi. En ese momento sentí tanta impotencia por no ser hombre y en ese momento darle unos golpes bien dados. Como era un imposible, lo que si hice fue llamar al numero 911. Fue la primera vez que tuve valor para llamar al 911 porque en otras ocasiones me había golpeado y nunca llame al 911 por el miedo que tenia. El miedo que sentí venia de no poder hablar el idioma, de no ser legal en este país y por otras situaciones también. A los 5 minutos de haber llamado la policía, llego y después de unas preguntas lo arrestaron a el.
Yo me quede sola con mi hija y con mi niño y estaba embarazada de nuevo y por si fuera poco, también estaba sin trabajo con la venta que se debía y sin dinero. Fue como un “shock” tremendo para mí. Después empecé a investigar teléfonos de ayuda para victimas de violencia domestica y por fin encontré un centro por mi área. Gracias a Dios me han ayudado muchísimo. Pasaron unos meses y nació mi segundo niño y ahora somos cuatros, mis dos niños, mi hija y yo. Me he acercado más a las cosas de Dios y me siento con Su ayuda divina y Sus bendiciones que estoy superando mi experiencia fea y dolorosa.
Si tú eres una victima maltratada no tengas miedo de pedir ayuda porque no estas sola(o) nadie debe aguantar maltratos físicos, ni sicológicos. Ayúdate para que puedas ayudar a otras victimas.
NO TENGAS MIEDO!"
Una Misiva de una Sobreviviente
"Cuando me case yo estaba convencida que había encontrado el hombre con el que iba a formar una familia y vivir el resto de mi vida con el. Las primeras semanas éramos muy felices. Trabajábamos juntos en el campo también íbamos juntos de compras, todo prácticamente lo que hacíamos, lo hicimos juntos.
Alrededor de un mes y medio de toda esta felicidad, mi pareja comenzó a hablarme con malas palabras. Paso más tiempo y su trato conmigo fue empeorando, el comenzó a darme empujones, patadas y cada vez los golpes eran mas frecuentes, tres o cuatro veces por semana. El decía que yo tenia la culpa de que el me pegaba. Unos meses después quede embarazada y aun el sabiendo mi estado, el siguió maltratándome, golpeándome. Unas veces me golpeo con los puños y otras veces con la extensión eléctrica.
Cuando nació nuestro hijo el me prometió que iba a cambiar pero solo una semana después volvió a golpearme. A veces llegaba del trabajo borracho, en ese estado se molestaba más todavía y entonces comenzaba de nuevo golpearme cuando el niño lloraba. Yo quería ir me de la casa pero no tenia donde ir y a pesar de que me trataba muy mal yo lo quería mucho.
Cuando el bebe tenia ocho meses, empezó a crecerme el estomago y el me pregunto que si estaba embarazada. Yo no estaba segura, el me dijo que ya no quería mas hijos y también me dijo que si estabas embarazada otra vez, el bebe no era su hijo.
Yo le decía que si, que si de pronto estaba embarazada de nuevo el era el padre del bebe.
Alrededor de dos semanas después el estaba muy tomado, borracho y nuestro hijo comenzó a llorar. El se molesto mucho y comenzó a golpearme en el estomago y también en las piernas con la extensión eléctrica. Yo sentí que el me había lastimado el estomago y cuando el salio para afuera de la casa, tome a mi hijo en los brazos y me salí por una ventana. Llegue a casa se los vecinos y le dije que llamara la policía. El patrón de la finca me llevo a su casa, me quede dos días en su casa cuando empecé a sangrar.
Una amiga, trabajadora de la clínica donde me atendía, me vino a buscar para llevarme al hospital. En el hospital me dijeron que el bebe no estaba bien y que quizás lo iba a perder. Me llevaron por helicóptero a otro hospital más grande, estuve 5 días en ese hospital y el ultimo día perdí a mi bebe. Al otro día me dijeron que a mi esposo lo había arrestado. Cuando salí del hospital me fui a un albergue. Allí me acerque a
Dios y también a una iglesia. Ahí encontré la paz, el amor que por mucho tiempo no tuve.
Ahora, gracias a Dios, estoy más tranquila y feliz con mi hijo. Me han ayudado mucho las trabajadoras del Centro de Recursos para las Victimas, incluso desde el primer día que me conocieron me trataron con respeto y me hicieron sentir segura. Me dieron mucho apoyo y amor algo que nunca me voy a olvidar y estoy muy agradecida.
Los pastores y hermanos de la iglesia también sido y sigan haciendo un gran ayuda y apoyo para mi y mi bebe. Ahora pude regresar a trabajar y tener mi propio apartamento. Al final de todo me dado cuenta de que nadie tiene derecho de ponerle una mano encima de otro ser humano. Todas nos merecemos a tener un trato digno de respeto y amor. Por mi hijo soporte tanto daño porque yo quería que el creciera teniendo su padre cerca. Yo quiero decirle a todas las personas que están pasando por algo similar que lo denuncien, que todos tenemos derecho a la felicidad en un lugar seguro y lleno de paz."
"I was born in a small rural town. My mother became pregnant with me when she was 15 years old, and had to marry my father. My father beat her regularly when drinking, and I am now sure that he would get drunk, just to have an excuse to beat my mother. By the age of 18 my mother was divorced with two children. We lived with my grandmother until I was six, and then my mother remarried. The happiest years of my life were from the ages of 6-11, but when I started to develop into a woman at the age of 12, my stepfather started molesting me, with him physically and sexually abusing me. I thought it was my fault and never told my mother or anyone else. I thought it was a dirty secret and I was being punished because of the situation of my birth. I had always felt like a dirty little secret because of my birth, and now the dirty little secret continued with the abuse by my stepfather.
I had abusive relationships after abusive relationships, but I always thought this was normal. One day, as a young adult, I was in a terrible car accident. My boyfriend who was in the car with me, died in the accident. All I could remember is that he abused me too, and I wasn't happy and remember I was trying to make a plan to leave him. The emergency workers had to cut me out of the car, and what is so devastating to me is that a child died in the other car. I was in a wheelchair and the road to recovery will be long.
I contacted the Victim Resource Center and the domestic violence counselor came to my home. She has helped me and been by my side for many months. She counseled me and educated me about my emotions and feelings around the sexual and physical abuse as a child. She has given me the tools I need to make a better life for myself. I had many injuries on the outside but my wounds on the inside will take much longer to heal. I hope my story will help victims reach out to the Victim Resource Center for help. I hope and pray that women have the courage to say 'enough is enough' for their lives and the lives of their children. Sexual abuse and domestic violence won't stop until we all speak out and say 'enough is enough!' I pray that everyone reading this will have enough courage to reach out to the Victim Resource Center, and I pray for your safety and the safety of your children."
"When I got together with my partner I was convinced that I had found the man that I would live the rest of my life with, the man that would father my children.
Initially we were very happy. We would work together side by side on the farm, we would go together to shop, practically everything we did, we did it together. About six to eight weeks into our relationship of bliss my mate started speaking to me with offensive words. After some time passed, his treatment towards me got worse, he started shoving me, kicking me, with more and more frequency. This would happen two or three times a week. He always said it was my fault that he hit me.
A few months later I was pregnant and even though he knew my state, he continued mistreating and hitting me. Sometimes he would hit me with his fists other times he would hit me with an electrical cord. When our son was born he promised me that he would change but after only one week passed he beat me again. Sometimes he would come home from work drunk. When he was in that state, the slightest thing bothered him even more. He would beat me when the baby cried. I wanted to leave him but I didn’t have anywhere to go and though he treated me terribly, I did love him.
When our son was eight months old, my abdomen was growing, my mate asked me if I was pregnant. I wasn’t sure; he said he didn’t want anymore children. He also said that if I was pregnant it wasn’t from him. I told him if in fact I was pregnant again, he certainly was the father.
About two weeks after that incident we were in our home and he was very drunk, our son had started to cry. He became very angry and began hitting me in the stomach; he also whipped the back of my legs with the electrical cord. I felt as if he did irreparable damage to my abdomen. When he stopped and went outside, I picked up our son and crawled out of the bedroom window. I went to the neighbor’s home and asked them to call the police. The owner of the farm brought me to his house to stay. I was there two days when I began to bleed. I was taken to the nearest hospital. At the hospital I was told that the baby was in crisis and it was quite possible that I could lose the baby. I was taken by helicopter to another larger hospital. I stayed in the hospital for five days and on the last day, an hour after I delivered my baby, she died. I was told that shortly after I had left my home, my mate was arrested.
When I left the hospital, I went to the Victim Resource Center, that provided me shelter with my infant son. While I was there I got closer to God and to a church. I found the peace and the love that I hadn’t felt in such a long time. The VRC provided safe shelter, food, clothing, planned my baby’s funeral, accompanied me to all my medical appointments, helped me find a place to live, and continues to counsel and support me.
Now, thanks to God I am tranquil and happy with my son. The workers from the Victim Resource Center helped me immensely, since the very day they met me, from that first day I was treated with respect and they made me feel secure. They gave me a lot of support and love, something that I will never forget, and always be grateful for. The pastors and elders of my church also have been and continue to be a great help and source of support for me and my child. Finally I was able to return to work and to have my own apartment.
After all of this I realized that no one has the right to put their hands on another human being. We all deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and love. For my son’s sake I bore much suffering because I wanted him to be raised with his father.
I want to say to all the people that are going through some similar type of abuse, to denounce that person. We have the right to happiness, security and peace."
"Ten years ago, when I met my husband, I was a strong, happy, young single mother. I was working full-time and getting ready to start college. I even had a few thousand dollars in my savings. He slowly took away all of that strength and ambition.
It started as criticism and verbal abuse. He told me that at a size one I was fat. When I was carrying our first child, he criticized me every time I ate a meal or snack. He learned I was abused as a child, and would tell me I liked the abuse, and wanted it and missed it, and worse. If I tried to be romantic, he would say he didn't want a wife who acted like a whore. Everything was his way and his way alone. He took all my paychecks and limited my work to part-time and only places where he or his family worked.
The physical abuse started right after we were married. In addition to being called every vile name, he began pushing me into walls and furniture, spitting in my face, and grabbing me by the hair. This escalated to outright slapping and punching. I was choked twice until I passed out, and vomited from the choking twice.
The police came many times but with no outcome. I was frightened and embarrassed to tell them what he had done. I tried to leave once but he was able to secure custody of our children because I had no money or job. Eventually I went back to protect my children.
This last time I really thought he would kill me. This time, when he was choking me, I could feel myself blacking out, and felt like my head would burst. I really thought I was dying. When I came to, he was gone. He thought he had killed me and still only cared about himself.
The police officer that came didn't call the paramedics, didn't take photographs, and asked if I wanted to press charges and secure an order of protection. My saving grace, a friend, gave me the number of the Victim Resource Center. I called and found that this was the kindest group of women I had ever met. Even with a gross lack of funding, they worked endlessly to help me and my children start over.
I was able to stay at the VRC shelter. We finally had a safe and peaceful place to live. The VRC staff supported me in my search for housing and employment. They helped and supported me to get the legal process started for custody of my children, and the referral I needed for a divorce.
I am forever grateful to the VRC staff. What I am most grateful for though, is the emotional support. No matter how busy, I was treated with respect and kindness. No one judged me. There was always someone to listen. They tell me it's part of the job but other people are paid to be resources and advocates at their jobs, but I have never received this support from any other agency. The staff at the VRC cares for me and my children and they show empathy and love because they are an exceptional group of women.
Because of the VRC staff, we are moving into a beautiful apartment, I am starting a new job, and fighting for custody of my children. I am slowly but surely becoming the strong, happy woman I once was.
If you are being abused in any way, I urge you to call the VRC. You will find support, and caring people who will provide you with options to change your life and the lives of your children. They will also instill the importance of empowering you to make the changes and take control of your life. My hope in telling my story is not just to inspire other victims of domestic violence, but also to inspire change in our system. The need is desperate. I urge those with power to create change, to act now and act aggressively in providing more financial assistance to the VRC and other agencies, and additional financial support to families leaving domestic violence. There is a gross lack of funding, with what few resources are available are being reduced annually. There also needs to be changes in the laws to protect families and punish abusers. While I appreciated the assistance from the local Department of Social Services, there is no doubt that the VRC staff are better at determining the needs of victims and their families. With the current system in place, a mother and her children must apply for welfare. If the VRC and agencies like the VRC had the funding to establish these families, with the support systems in place, initially, I believe there would be a significant reduction in those families returning to domestic violence homes, and an increase in the success rate for families to remain free from these domestic violence homes with a greater success at beginning a new life. The majority of women would not return to their abusers if they could adequately and proudly provide for their families. Bring the resources to them so that they do not have to continue to come through the welfare system over and over. We need those in power to help stop the cycle of violence.
Another concern is our legal system. In my case, my husband was charged with harassment in the 2nd in 2005. He had threatened to spit on me and slap me in front of our children. One of the choking incidents happened in front of our children. He paid a fine to the court. That money went to the town, not to the victim or an agency like the VRC. I believe that all fines for domestic violence should go to agencies like the VRC to help victims, or to the victim directly. Now in 2009 he faces the same charges for choking me! The same charge! There are still scars on my neck from his finger nails digging into my skin, until I passed out. The ADA believes he will pay another fine which will go to the court, not to the victim or the VRC to help other victims. When we went to file the custody paperwork, we attached years of police reports, and the court would not accept them because they were too old. Doesn't this show a pattern of ongoing abuse in the home that also affects the children? This pattern of abuse should be recognized and a slap on the wrist does not deter him from doing it again. There would be stronger penalties if he did this to a dog or a stranger! Women are punished for having relationships, and believing in family. He continues to receive minimal punishment and continues to stalk, and abuse women. I would at least like the laws to change to a more severe penalty if these abusers hurt their wives or girlfriends, and the mothers of their children. There should be added distinctions for crimes instead of harassment in the 2nd.
I am asking our legislators to be our heroes and be the ones to take a stand and make a difference. Help empower victims. Help secure fair punishment for the abusers. You will save time and money. Our county spends so much money on housing criminals, and our state on building projects to house animals or building facilities for seniors to play cards. Yet there is no funding for building new domestic violence shelters, or purchasing these shelters. We need our legislators and everyone in power to be our heroes! I know that the VRC is starting a campaign for men to become involved in deterring domestic violence and helping the victims, because I am now volunteering at the VRC. The campaign is called, 'Are you a member of the Silent Majority?' It is a good campaign because most men are not abusers or sexual predators. Most men are good men, and this includes many of our legislators. My question to them, 'Are you a member of the Silent Majority?' 'Will you help to make these changes for the victims and their children?' 'What will you do to end domestic and sexual violence?'"
"I married my husband in Mexico in 1999. His violent behavior towards me started that very day. I was menstruating, and told my husband we would have to hold off having relations. Isaac wasn’t having that, he forced himself on me, saying we are married now and you are mine, my property. He stated that he wanted to “get me any where he could.” I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to have sex but he hit me repeatedly and said if he couldn’t have sex vaginally he would get me from the back. He continued to beat on me while he forced his penis into my rectum. For the next nine years I endured this type of treatment. His violence towards me included physical beatings, unwanted painful sex forced on me including sodomy and oral sex. I was forced to watch pornographic movies to “learn how it’s done”. Humiliation, degradation and verbal obscenities were an everyday occurrence. He would point to the women in the porn films and say “look at those bodies, that’s the kind of woman I craving for. I don’t know why I married you”. He would drag me by my hair around the house saying I was nothing but a lazy fat girl, good for nothing, an idiot, he said that I didn’t know how to please a man, he would have to go to prostitutes to have it done right. One day he was so angry he actually kicked me in the vagina. He hit me frequently and did whatever he wanted me to do with me; I was only 16 and a half. He said that the woman was good only for bearing children and taking care of them and had to do what their man said. I never told anyone what was going on for fear that he would retaliate in some way. He always threatened me that if I told anyone he would cause more harm to me and to my family. I had no one to turn to that could help me in my situation. I didn’t have options to choose from. I had no support to speak of, in my country it doesn’t matter whether your marriage bad, you are told to stay and work things out, no matter the cost. This was my mother’s continual advice, she would say that she endured great hardship with my father, so why couldn’t I. She didn’t want our family to be without a father, why should it be any different for me. Since I was a little girl my mother had treated me very poorly. She made me feel that because I was born a female I had no value, I was worthless. My mother would say to me that women reek, that what we carry “stinks” and that men are different. My mother displayed more love for my brothers because they were males then she did for me, a female. To her a woman was filthy, revolting, disgusting - to be loathed. I heard that so many times that it became a part of me, how I felt about myself.
After we were married we resided with my grandparents. My grandparents would give us food, and they also provided a room for us. My husband would abandon me days on end, to go and drink; sometimes he would look for work, other times he didn’t bother. He was a constant threat to my grandparents because he often threatened them with physical harm, or would shove them especially when they tried to intervene for me. My grandfather was sick with diabetes and was frail; my marital problems with Isaac and Isaac’s threats were too taxing for him and affected his health, eventually the stress took a greater toll on his health and my grandpa died. I did not want bring harm to my grandparents; I didn’t know where else to go, outside help didn’t exist for me. Even so, Isaac’s abuse took its toll and it wasn’t too long after that that my grandpa died. When Isaac did work, he never left me any money; his pay went for his vices, having fun in the bars, drinking with women, buying his beer and cigarettes. At times when he didn’t have his own money he would take money away from me to go drink, sometimes he would use drugs and that is when he would hit me the most.
I became pregnant with my first child two months into my marriage. My husband said the baby I was expecting wasn’t his and who knew where it came from, Isaac said “what man left his curdled sperm in you?” Just a few days before my son was born, my husband beat me relentlessly. That day I summoned the courage to file a lawsuit against him, I had witnesses and affidavits to testify on my behalf, only to be told by the judge to return to my husband. The judge said I had to be with him because he was my husband and I would have to put up with him, he knew what he was doing. That day my husband asked me to forgive him and that he would never again lay a hand on me. The judge encouraged me to give him an opportunity, so I did. Before we got home he started with me, calling me profanities, “you stupid bitch, there you go opening your big mouth, gossiping.” My husband said “the next time you want to go bearing tales; you won’t live to tell them.” He went on to say “I already told you I am like this and I am not going to change and if you want to you can go screw yourself, you son of a bitch”.
My son was born in 2000. Two weeks after he was born my husband went out to get drunk again. When he returned home he beat me, I became very sick from that incident and close to losing my life. Once again he asked me to forgive him, this time I told him that I wanted to leave him, my grandmother supported my decision but they were too poor to help support me and my son. My parents did not support me in my decision, they protested, they complained that it would not look right for me to leave my husband. Fortunately for me, something unexpected happened in August of 2000, the authorities put my husband in jail; I was told that he had done something disrespectful to another woman, and he had to do jail time. I never found out the exact details of what happened but the break from his abuse was a welcomed relief.
In 2001 I started selling chicken, tamales and buñuelos in the streets to be able to support myself and my son. I also did laundry and ironed clothing to make a little money. We couldn’t rely on Isaac; his money went for his vices.
In October of 2003 my husband came to the United States, and he left me behind with his mother. I lived in her house with our son, for seven months when my husband pleaded for us to join him in the U.S. We entered the United States without inspection in 2004. I had hoped that we would have a better life in the U.S., my husband had been going to church, and said that with pastoral guidance he had turned his life around. Shortly after I arrived in the states, I found out that it wasn’t so. It wasn’t long before he had hit me; forced acts of sex on me that I abhorred, his old habits were in full swing, abusing me and my son, and continued his drinking, drugging and prostitutes.
In 2008, I was pregnant again but had made the decision to leave my husband, once and for all. We had separated soon after that. My husband was threatening me with; if I didn’t go back with him he would report me to Immigration so they could put me in jail. He never wanted me to have any friends. When I spoke to a friend he said it was because he was my lover, if it was a girlfriend I was speaking with, it was because she knew my secret of whoring around.
In 2008, I was sleeping in bed when there was a very loud knock on the door. It was around 12 am. My husband called me on the cell phone and told me to open the door; he said “I want to catch you in the act you bitch”. I told him that we had already split up, he had no business being there and that and I didn’t want him to come looking for me, or to come and bother me for any reason. He said if I didn’t open the door he would call immigration on me, he was banging on the door very hard. I had already been picked up by Immigration and had an upcoming court date. I finally went and opened the door; he barged in and immediately snatched the cell phone from my hand. I pulled it away from him but he pushed me and he hit me in the stomach, many times and very hard. Almost immediately I began having contractions and vaginal bleeding. It was a few days later when I went to the hospital; I was told by the doctor that my baby had died. They would have to remove the baby from my uterus; I was 8 weeks along in my pregnancy. From that moment on I was like a crazy person and I wanted to die. I felt terrible for the death of my baby son. I came to hate my husband even more then I ever had before.
Two weeks after losing my baby, I started working again. My husband would come for the children in a drunken state and he would take them in that condition, I was not able to stop him. He would hit the children frequently; he hit my older son with a belt on various occasions. One day he left him black and blue and sent him to school; they took notice at my son’s school, and another report was filed, the department of Social Services became involved. We both were under their supervision; I never spoke up out of fear from my husband’s continual threats of retaliation. He continually threatened to call Immigration on me if I dared speak up against him, “what will you do then?” he would say. “They will put you in jail and take your children away from you.” He would also threaten me with Immigration to coerce me into having sexual relation with him, nothing was sacred. I remained separated from him. There were other similar instances of the same nature, abusing the children, followed by subsequent charges and report to Child Protective Services.
In October around 6 am, my husband came to the house, he tried opening the door by force and managed to do it and come in the house, and then he left. Shortly after that, he started knocking on the windows saying he was going to kill me and my lover; he always accused me of having one, since I wouldn’t go back to him. He said he wanted to kill me that day; he had a knife on him and also a gun. He showed the gun to our oldest son, and motioned to him that he was going to hurt me with it. He started physically fighting with me, wanting me to leave with him, and he said to me, “do you want to see, you son of a bitch, if I really call immigration?” The police were called and arrived quickly, but he had already left the house. I showed my bruises to the police, they were on my arms and legs. The police were still at my house; writing their report of what occurred to me and the children, when he called me, the officer wanted to speak to my husband, I handed him the phone. The police officer told my husband they wanted to see him. When he returned, the police officers met with him on the patio and told me and my children to remain inside of the house. Since he had come to the house with a knife and a gun, they did not want to take any chances with our safety. After a while, the police arrested him and took him away. The policemen said not to worry him and that he wouldn’t be bothering me again. I explained my legal situation to the police; they gave me information as to who I could call to help with my dilemma. Because I was now safe from my husband’s abuse, I could finally open up and tell the worker from Child Protective Services what had been going on in my home, and with my children. I told them that he had been the one beating us, abusing us, taking the children by force in his car when he was not in condition to drive. I told them that he had gone to jail at last because he had forced his way in my house, he had beat me in front of the children and he had come there with a gun making threats to kill me. He showed the gun to my son and signaled to my son that he was going to hurt me with it, and he would be deported very soon. All the charges against me were dropped, the case was closed.
After all of that turmoil I went to see a doctor, all those years of being hurt and threatened had taken a toll, leaving me feeling very frightened, frustrated and nervous. There were times I didn’t want to go on living. I saw a doctor; he was the doctor from a local clinic. I told the doctor the things that I had been through and he prescribed certain medications that could help me. Since I began taking this medication I feel much better. Taking the medication and meeting with my counselor help manage the depression I have. My children tell me and I can see that they are happy now; things are going better for them in school too.
I am afraid to return to my country, my children and I will be in danger. I fear my husband, and returning to my country will put me and the children in great physical danger again. The laws in my country do not protect women and children living in abuse as they do here, in the United States. What would become of me and my children if these laws and services were not available to victims of crimes here in New York State? I appreciate all that is being done on my behalf and that of my children’s to help and protect us. I wish to give special thanks to my attorney, Denise, from Victim Resource Center and also to Alina from Farmworker Legal Services of New York, and Cynthia from the Victim Resource Center. Without their assistance, I would not have come this far. God protect you and bless you all. I am praying that my situation can be resolved and that the children and I can find rest from violence and torment, and that we can live in peace here in the United States. I know if I have to return to Mexico with my children, my husband and their father will be able to hurt us even more; I will be at risk of losing my life. The police and laws in Mexico don’t offer the same protection as they do here. I greatly appreciate the help for from the Victim Resource Center and Farmworker Legal Services, and the police - they have saved our lives."
"I lived in abusive relationship for almost 20 years. It was mostly emotional abuse with about a dozen physical events. After the first one occurs, when things are about to escalate, you begin to back-peddle to prevent an injury. I always hated being someone I wasn't, to prevent him from getting angry at me. I am an intelligent, strong woman with strong opinions, but that was not what he wanted. We have two wonderful children together and I thought I had a pretty nice life. I didn't work for 15 years. So I was able to be a stay-at-home mom and we had nice things. I finally realized that you should leave when you have more fear living with him than of living without him. It actually took me 20 years to realize these truths. To someone not in an abusive relationship - you cannot believe what freedom is until you no longer have it. Living in an abusive relationship can literally cloud your brain over, so that you begin to believe what you are told that "there is no way for you to leave." I secured a good job and my children were now teens. My husband was back and forth to his girlfriends' house, paying for her divorce because she was in an "abusive relationship!" There were threats of killing me and they would never find my bones. My teens wanted to stay in the home, because he was not abusive to them. I am hoping they will move in with me now that I have found a safe place to live. He even told me that if I took the kids with me, I had better take my dogs or he would take them in the back and shoot them one at a time. He said that if I left, he would "have one-hell of a bonfire out back!" I began to realize that if I did not leave, I would not survive. There are so many other things, so many other times, but I do not want to dwell on this any longer. I was to be free from fear.
I always felt that domestic violence programs were for the severely battered women, but the point is to leave before this happens. The Victim Resource Center staff treated me as though I was important. They accepted and helped me as they did the other women I lived with briefly at the shelter. I had a wonderful advocate who never made me feel like my case wasn't her most important case. If you are fearful, call the Victim Resource Center or the domestic violence agency in you community. There are people who will listen, care for you, and guide you through the next steps to leave domestic violence. You are not alone."
"I started dating my boyfriend about 10 years ago. At first, everything was going great. He was sweet, and adored and did things for my young daughter, so I thought I had found the man of my dreams. Little did I know he was with two other girls besides me. At first, he would call me a name now and then. Then it went to the money. I started working and he decided how all the money was spent. At first, I thought nothing of it. I just thought he wanted to take care of things. Then he began controlling what I could and could not buy. Then, I just received an allowance, about $20 per week and I had to account for how I spent the $20. This $20 was suppose to be for food and clothing for my daughter and myself. Eventually his controlling me became much worse. He took my makeup away. If I did put on makeup, I was accused of cheating, or he called me a slut and I had to scrub the makeup off my face until he was satisfied. I only put on makeup when he said I could wear it. He then told me that I could not wear shorts, skirts, dresses or tank tops, and no low-cut shirts or tight-fitting clothing. I had to have a cell phone with me at all times. If he thought I was taking too long at the store, he would call me, and I had to be home in 20 minutes, no matter where I was. I was not allowed to talk to anyone, and if he caught me, he had to know everything about this person and needed to know everything about our conversation. He continued to cheat on me for three years, and one time I confronted him, and that is the first time he hit me. He was in bed and one of his friend's found out and she called me on the phone. I remember he took the phone out of my hand, threw it across the room, and punched me in the stomach so hard, the computer chair I was sitting in fell backwards. I ran and locked myself in the bathroom. I was frightened because he had never hit me before. After this incident, he was so sorry, and he begged me for forgiveness and promised to never do it again. About a month later the name-calling began again. I then told him that I was going to leave, and he picked me off the couch by my arms and threw me across the room. I broke my arm and had a large bump on my head. I went to the hospital, and told the staff that I had tripped over a child gate. Again, he begged me to forgive him and promised not to do it again. Months went by, and while he did not hit me, the names continued, and the controlling escalated. So, I finally decided to leave, no matter what. So I told him. I ended up with a broken finger, my front teeth broken, and bruises all over my body.
We were apart for about a year, and he continued to beg me to return and that he would change, and it would be much better this time. So...I went back. Everything was so good for the first month. I really thought he had changed, until the first time he was mad at me, and he slammed me up against a wall. I ended up with a concussion. I told the ER staff that I fell and hit my head. Again he promised that he would never again hit me and begged my forgiveness. I stayed because I did not have the money to live on my own with a small child, and a part of me still cared for him. A short-time later, he was mad at me because I was not carrying the dirty clothes down the stairs fast enough, so he pushed me down the stairs. This tore all the tendons in my ankle. That is when I finally decided I had enough to walk away from him. I told my counselor, who told me about a Domestic Violence agency in my county. I eventually called because I was sure something worse would happen. That agency referred me to the Victim Resource Center for emergency shelter placement.
I am writing 'My Story' just as I am leaving the VRC Safe Dwelling and have found a new place to live. I would honestly say that without the staff from Family Counseling referring me to the VRC, and without the VRC, I know I would have been seriously injured again, or much worse. My daughter has no one but me, and if something happened to me at the hands of my abuser, she would have to be placed in Foster Care. I was in Foster Care as a young child because my father was very abusive to me and I was taken away from him. I do not want this to happen to my child. I want to thank the staff from both agencies. I hope 'My Story' helps other women have the courage to leave with their children to stay safe."