Kim is a former shelter client (her name has been changed).
It was early summer of 2010 and my life was about to change. I was two months away from marrying a man that was welcoming me and my children into his home and his life. We had been dating for a couple of years and had finally put our rocky past behind us and felt ready to become a family. For me it was a feeling of relief. I had been struggling as a single mom for several years and finally I was walking into a world where I didn’t have to worry about how I would provide food or clothing for my children. My fiancé had a successful career and saw to it that all of our needs were met. He took us on weekend trips, vacations, and treated us to meals at places that we’d never dreamed of going. He bought extravagant gifts for the children and pampered me with expensive jewelry and frivolous tokens of love. My life was about to change, just not in the ways I expected.
During our dating relationship, I had learned that all of these gifts came with a price. Many times they were an apology for saying hurtful things to me. Sometimes they were used as rewards for complying with his wishes. But they always came with a price. Many of my friends tried to convince me that he was too controlling and that I should beware. Some would suggest that he was being abusive, but I always blew them off. In my mind I considered abuse to be physical harm, and nothing like that was happening to me. As this man learned the feelings of my friends and family, he gradually isolated me from them. At the time of our engagement in 2010, I hadn’t spoken to my parents in almost a year, and was only allowed to invite 6 of my friends to our wedding. I was lonely and missed my loved ones, but I was convinced that we were creating our own family and I only needed him and my children to be happy.
Only a few short weeks after we moved into his home, an argument broke out that would be the beginning of the end. What had previously been verbal and emotional abuse by control and manipulation quickly escalated to physical abuse that nearly cost me my life and likely the lives of my children. To this day I don’t understand why he suddenly fled, but thankfully he did. As he sped away from the house, it never even occurred to me to call the police. I dressed my children and took them to school. I then drove around aimlessly deciding what step to take next. I was certain that he would calm down and everything would be fine, but in the meantime I didn’t have anywhere to go or money to get there. I had been given the number of Domestic Abuse Intervention Services by a therapist but I wasn’t ready to share my story with anyone. What if they didn’t believe me? What if they told me what I’d just experienced wasn’t really abuse? With many fears and reservations, I decided to call them to see if they had any options for affordable housing. The voice on the other line informed me that I qualified for the DAIS shelter. I was shocked to hear those words, as I had pictured a shelter as a place for someone who had no home, no money, and no other options. I was even more shocked to realize that “someone” was me.
My children and I lived at the DAIS shelter for a short time while I made arrangements to obtain housing and get back on my feet. During our stay, I began to realize that I had become a completely different person over the past few years. I had let the abuse cycle take over my life and I was too involved to see it happening. The staff at DAIS helped me process this information and guide me toward help for the future. With their help along the way, I’m happy to report that my life continues to go in a positive direction. I am a strong advocate for domestic violence because I’m so thankful to still have a voice. I often say that DAIS saved my life, but the truth is I saved my own life, DAIS just gave me the power and courage to do so.
Please make a gift to the 2012 DAIS Annual Fund to support survivors like Kim.
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