“Life is full of choices. I chose not to be hit anymore; I chose to seek trust and hope; I chose to work toward a future; I chose to learn a positive attitude; I chose to see all my children and grandchildren one day. I hope that includes you. As you mature and see more of life, maybe you will understand how hurt I am. My love was abused and killed slowly by hitting, loss of trust and faith, etc. Regardless of what happens between your father and me, remember I love you. I also realize you are caught in the middle. Take care of each other and God bless.”
~ Emily (an excerpt from a letter written to her children)
Choice has not always been simple for Emily. It took eighteen frightful years of a violent marriage before she mustered up the courage to flee that relationship. Each one of those years was plagued with an ever-growing concern for her own health and safety. Emily was a victim of domestic violence. She suffered through both physical and emotional abuse.
When Emily was first married she knew that her husband possessed a hot temper, but she never imagined that his anger would one day be directed at her. However, it was soon after their wedding date when she fell victim to the first violent attack. Desperately believing that this was an isolated, episode, Emily accepted her husband’s apology and even convinced herself that she was somehow deserving of it. “I thought every family had its problems and this was one the two of us would have to work out.” Unfortunately, as the marriage continued, the frequency and severity of the battering only increased.
Emily’s husband became unpredictable and extremely dangerous. She constantly feared that her life was in jeopardy. Although there were moments when her husband was showering her with words of affection, more often than not, he was controlling her with acts of aggression, threats, or emotional degradation. “It seemed like any little miscue could set him off. To protect myself, I emotionally shut down around him. I would not even dare smile in his presence.” Emily soon was consumed with fear. She worried about the dangers of staying, but also dreaded the risks of leaving. Her husband had threatened to chase her down if she ever left him.
After years of deliberation, Emily finally experienced her “awakening” when her husband left town. During his brief departure, Emily felt like an entirely different woman. “There was a huge weight lifted off of my back. I started sleeping better and had more energy. I decided that I no longer could stay with him.” Before he returned, she packed up her bags and made arrangements for her children. She then moved into a domestic violence shelter where she received the proper support and counseling.
Upon completion of the six-week domestic violence program, Emily sought transitional shelter at The Lake County Haven. “I had no where to go. If the Haven was not around I probably would have returned to my abuser.” During her two-month stay at the Lake County Haven, Emily made swift progress toward her goal of safe and self-sufficient living. She received an order of protection against her husband, and filed for divorce. She also learned how to properly manage her financial records and has since paid off all of her debts. To her amazement, she is even putting money away into her savings account.
Emily lives with another Lake County Haven shelter graduate in one of the agency’s transitional housing apartments. She continues to receive support from her case manager on a regular basis. In addition, the Haven’s food pantry has provided Emily with groceries during financially challenging times. “I realize that there are going to be trying times, but I must not wallow in my sorrows. Some days I am sure to feel alone, however, I must never lose sight of the better days to come.” Emily must always remember that she has the ability to create a new, safe, and rewarding life for herself.
“It is nice knowing you are not alone. I will forever be indebted to the Haven for their support.” ♥