“I always believed things would get better. I kept fooling myself that he would change. He always said how much he loved me. He even went to counseling. Then, one night, I thought he was going to kill me. That is when I started making phone calls for help.”
At the age of twenty-six, Carly and her young son came to the Lake County Haven. Being a battered woman, she needed to find a secure environment for the two of them to live. As an adolescent though, Carly never dreamed her life would include the terror and trauma associated with domestic violence. She was raised amongst a loving family, in a northern suburb of Chicago. She attended a fine high school and had plans for earning a college degree. However, after only one semester of university courses, she dropped out. Tuition was too steep and she needed to find a job to pay for her education. While still living at home, Carly started working to augment her savings. She intended to re-enroll in school as soon as possible.
After approximately a year of working, Carly became romantically involved. Within a short time she moved in with her boyfriend. Soon thereafter, Carly discovered she was pregnant. Although the couple had no plans for marriage, they decided to have the baby.
Eventually Carly and her son’s biological father ended their relationship. Carly moved back in with her parents and lived there for the next two years. During that time, she supported her son with money earned at a part-time nanny job. She also started dating again. When her parents informed her that they were relocating out of state, Carly took residence with her new boyfriend. She was excited about their future together. Despite good beginnings though, the relationship quickly became turbulent.
Carly’s boyfriend was very coercive and controlling. He also proved to be extremely dangerous when drunk. Carly became frightened for her safety, but her fear practically paralyzed her. “I know I must sound crazy, but the more someone hits you the tougher it is to leave. I was too scared to stay, and even more scared to go. He would hit me when he was drunk and then apologize when he was sober. He went to counseling in an effort to change but just came back and hit me more. Then one night I feared for my life. That is when I packed up, grabbed my child, and prayed he didn’t wake up until I was gone.”
Carly moved into the Lake County Haven soon thereafter. Besides a car and a couple of bags, she had only seven dollars to her name. “When I first arrived I did not fully understand all I would be doing I just knew I had a safe place to stay. Then my life started moving so quickly. I registered for public aid, started a job-training program, and found work at a nearby day-care facility. On top of all that, I still wanted to devote plenty of time to my son. Every day was busy from morning to night.” Once Carly completed her job training, she enrolled in trade school. She was optimistic about her career opportunities. “After every goal I achieved there was always a next step. It was a continuous process and eventually I ended up on my feet. It actually happened, all the pieces fell into place.”
While living at the Lake County Haven, Carly learned many life skills. Most importantly, she developed a sense of self-esteem. Carly gained a greater understanding of herself and who she wanted to be. She realized that she did not deserve a violent relationship. After a couple of months in the program she started overcoming her prior obstacles and fears. Her life took on structure again. “When I entered the Haven there was that feeling of uncertainty. I did not know what I was doing or what would come of me. Now I have much more confidence.”
Today, Carly and her son live in their own apartment. She still works full-time at a daycare facility and is trying her best to provide a good home for her son. “My child is much happier now. We live in a safe and cozy apartment where he enjoys structure in his life. No longer is he subject to random acts of violence.”
Carly is extremely thankful for the second chance at life the Lake County Haven has provided her. “I definitely could not have made it without the help of the Haven. I became a different person for the better there. I learned how people in the world really lived. I just think the Lake County Haven is a great place for anyone who needs the help. I would not be where I am today without their aid.” ♥