This is a survivor story as told by a former HCWC client. Trigger warning – language about violence and abuse can be upsetting to some readers.
My girls and I have suffered abuse emotionally, mentally and physically from their father for over 10 years. I have reached out for help for the last three years as the abuse escalated to the point where we’ve feared for our lives. We suffered this abuse in another state before we came to Texas.
I’m the only mom my girls have known since they were two years old. They had been abandoned and I assisted their father in gaining custody of them. Over the years, however, his drinking got worse as did his temper. I called various agencies only to be told I couldn’t be helped. Although I’d been working and supporting us since the girls started kindergarten, I didn’t have any rights. I was still considered a “nobody” because their father and I weren’t married.
Regardless of the fact that he hit us all, he still had custody. I drove us to three different women’s center and after telling of our abuse we were still turned away. We fell apart at the doctor’s office and broke down, all three of us, telling of our abuse. They called Child Protective Services. That wasn’t any help either because the social worker spoke to their dad first. She didn’t even talk to me about the abuse. She told the girls our family had to be separated and they’d have to go with their dad. They informed her they would rather go to a shelter than live with their dad.
After an injury, I lost my job and faced recurring unemployment. We lost our apartment. Their dad had been in a Rehabilitation Center so I contacted an agency that provided legal services to children and youth. They advised me to complete guardianship paperwork which I filed. However, I dropped the process because he surprised us and walked through the door as we were finishing up our last minute packing. The next year was horrible.
He’d throw sodas and anything he could get his hands on at me. Twice glass fragments cut the girls. He continually threatened to send my girls away. He would punish us by not taking me for groceries. He’d tell my girls they were stupid and made them feel like they weren’t loved. He even drove erratically and scared them to death by swerving in front of a semi truck, all because they said they wanted to live with me, their mom. He hit one with an extension cord; he made the other stay on her knees for three hours. When I went to pick her up, he’d throw whatever he grabbed at me.
He put a knife to my side two different times. I heard myself say “go ahead, kill me. I’m tired of this abuse.” I realized the severity of the situation. I felt so hopeless, but was I really ready to die? I’d called the sheriff and the city police. Both said I’d be asked to leave because he had custody.
My family had an idea that something was going on, but never knew how bad it was. So one night when he slept, I told my girls to pack a bag and we left. I filed domestic abuse charges. We hid in two different counties and finally one county arrested him. I filled out paperwork and received an emergency restraining order. Then after paying to have him served, we went to court.
We hid in a room sleeping on mattresses on the floor and only going out at night or early morning. He still wasn’t arrested. We went to court and my girls and I gave our testimony and we were given a five year restraining order. However, he still hadn’t been picked up by police. No shelters had room for us. No centers could help me.
So a friend who’d moved here to this area suggested we come to Texas. I bought tickets and after letting the judge know that we feared for our lives, she granted us the order to flee and gave me permission to take the girls. My friend suggested HCWC and I called when we got to the area. We were truly blessed when HCWC opened its doors to us. We have never felt as safe as we do now. We have received counseling and the chance to eliminate fear from our lives. They have not only supplied us with necessities for living such as a room, food, clothing, but have put a sparkle in my girls’ eyes and laughter in their hearts.
In the short time we’ve been here, we’ve felt a peace we’ve never felt before. The staff is patient, kind, compassionate and so very understanding. I’ve regained so much inner strength and am feeling powerful again. The future is so exciting because HCWC helps you with guidance and direction and we are putting the pieces back together.
Thank you HCWC for giving me and my girls this wonderful opportunity to heal our wounds so that we can go forward. You are all truly angels that, I believe, the good Lord put in our path.
This article was featured in HCWC’s Fall 2016 Edition of the Networker. To read the full newsletter, visit our Newsletters page, and join our email list to receive the annual publication and occasional updates in your inbox.