We had run into each other before a couple of different times, I just didn’t who she was. I saw her at the food pantry waiting in line with her kid, one day we saw each other at the soup kitchen. We knew each other, all of us. We just didn’t acknowledge each other, we kept ourselves private, looking down at our kids or in our bags of free food or me, down at my worn pink sneakers. I heard her name once but nothing else. She was so tall and skinny why I could almost see through her, she looked so frail, like a bird thats broken. What I remembered of her were her frozen green eyes that seemed like they were stuck in her head with glue, like they never moved or blinked.
I guess the only thing we had in common was we were both moms on a mission to protect our children, to protect ourselves. Months later we met at the shelter, The Home For Abused Women And Children. I had been at The Home for a month now, she was just coming in. As soon as we saw each other we nodded, she took the bed next to mine. Her daughter and my daughter looked about the same age and they hit it off, children were great like that, they were best friends in less than five minutes.
She and I probably took a good couple of hours to speak, none of us were good at trusting but we were friends pretty soon. Once she made up her bed, with me helping her, we started talking. Not good stuff like you see on funny television, that’s for sure, but stuff we had in common. Both of us had been in abusive relationships; I felt guilty being here but she felt proud. That was what she was like, all the time.
She made me promise to talk to her first if I was ever tempted to run away from here and go back, and I was tempted often. So, when my kid said she “missed her daddy” I would want to leave straight away but Alison always knew before I even packed. She would come over, sit me down and she would not let me leave. We would go back in time, and tell her out loud when Brian hit me so hard my head cracked open and blood was everywhere, how I saw it on the green tile linoleum, thinking it would be hard to get out. It was kind of out of my body, why would I be thinking that? The pain so bad I wanted to die. She reminded me of what he said he wanted to do to my daughter and what he had done with my niece and that stopped me cold.
That changed my mind back to reality and she started reminding me of why I had left him and how he was still the same monster he was when I finally got out. Then she and I would hug and I would thank her until the next time it happened and I’d like to say it never happened again but it did. Lots of times.
We stood by each other, like real friends, and we joined a job training group together so we could get jobs somewhere. We all moved to another state, changed our names and started fresh. We shared a one bedroom apartment but we made do; the girls slept in the living room, we shared the bedroom working different shifts. We had “beat the odds” they said at the shelter, we were safe, we had our own home and we were proud.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND HELP:
The hotline number is (630) 469 – 5650.
Why should you call Family Shelter Service’s hotline?
- You want to talk about your situation with someone who understands, or
- You want to learn more about services and how to obtain information and help.
I like knowing there is somebody I can call at any time.”
– A Victim of Domestic Abuse