FROM BEATEN TO FREE
I'd like to tell you about Naomi, before you hear from her. I first met Naomi while working together. Naomi was to mentor me through my basic training. She was shy, quiet and really just kept to herself. I, on the other hand, am extremely outgoing, chatty, and a go-getter. No matter how different, it wasn't long before we became friends. Her story is one that I will NEVER forget. Naomi is gentle, kind, smart and competent. I almost thought she was the lead of that department. What really surprised me is that she had such low confidence in herself. It was hard for me to grasp, how this woman thought so lowly of herself. As Naomi and I became better friends, I learned even more.
I grew up as a military child. My family moved around the world during my youth, everywhere between the US and Japan. I lived a sheltered childhood. I didn't really experience close friendships, or have typical childhood experiences that many others had. My life at home was full of heartache. My mother suffered from extreme depression which ultimately left my older siblings to take care of younger ones.
As I became a young adult I met a man and fell in love. It seemed like a match made in heaven. We shared so much in common; our faith, goals, and dreams. What a perfect match! This all changed. I found myself in an extremely violent marriage. This man that I gave myself to, this man that I gave children to, this man that I gave up my education for, this man that I had fallen in love with was my biggest nightmare.
I was no isolated and away from my friends and family. I was left to endure this hell all on my own. I had taken the blame and burden of the marriage. I was trapped and felt it was my fault that my children were living in hell as well. There seemed to be no limits. From Christmas morning beatings, to absolute control over me and the kids. During a beating, I was shocked when my step son just went to his room as a response.
The last time my husband laid hands on me, he fractured my face and left me blind in one eye. I realized that this is how I was going to die. With the lives of my children at risk, it was time to go. I had to make changes. It was time to save myself and my kids.
I was able to find help in a church member. However, this was very short lived as the lies and deceit from my husband haunted me at every corner. He was a charismatic man, and no one would believe the he really was the vilian. No matter how much I tried to share my story to get help, everyone pulled away. At this point, I knew we needed to get even further away from him. The barriers holding me back seemed to get bigger and bigger. I tried at one point to access a shelter, but there wasn't one that had the capability to house all of us. I had to leave with my kids in the van. Even though I was homeless and living in a van with my kids, I was able to get away. I had escaped the torment of my husband. I was able to access some services that would help with food. I tried with all my being so stay positive through several roadblocks that followed. Eventually I found shelter and began rebuilding my life. We are now thriving. I am now a home owner and have followed my heart in a career helping others get out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
I advise women, men and children to document every bite, bruise, mark, with the time and day. Create a private email and upload your information and pictures. Be sure to save everything. If you don't feel safe having the pictures on your computer, please ask a trusted friend or family to hold your documents. It's not an easy decision to call the cops, I know. But, there are so many times I should have.
LEAVE YOUR ABUSER. They will play the victim card well. Know you deserve so much better. Your children deserve so much better.
Today, I am free of the tyrant. I can speak my mind. I can do things without walking on eggshells.
I am loved. I am cherished. I am respected. I FINALLY FEEL LIKE MYSELF.
Through Naomi's story, I could see things from a whole new perspective. When we allow poverty, mental illness, lack of education, high barrier assistance, and over crowded homeless shelters into our framework so many are left behind. I see so many opportunities in this story missed. How different would things have been if Naomi's mother had access to mental health assistance? What would her life be like if her mother raised her instead of her siblings? How many obstacles could have been avoided if shelters for families weren't overcrowded or unavailable all together. When we are moving together as a community to make a difference we are doing so much more than what is on the surface. We are able to truly move families from poverty, from struggle, from severe hardships, to a life of prosperity. Naomi and her children are now thriving, because of you. Your support tore down the barriers.