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When I Love You Turns Violent
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A battered woman's Christmas Gift
She gets up early on Christmas Day, hoping to get everything that is expected of her done and avoid conflict. It is 5:30 am. His family is coming for dinner and he wants the house spotless and a big dinner cooked. She walks on eggshells, hoping to get done and escape to her room. It has become her prison cell for the past 4 years. Her family might call but they won't come around anymore. They don't like how he treats her and have begged her to leave.
They don't understand that on disability of $ 533.00 a month she has nowhere to go. That amount won't even pay the rent on a room. She has no money of her own because he takes her checks every month. her family offers nothing but advice to leave. They all live in Alabama. They have not been close for many years. For her there is no escape and the screams go ignored by the neighbors who don't want to get invloved. She feels trapped like a wild animal.
The abuse for her and the isolation began when she was 10 and was sexually abused by her father and uncle. Her mother refused to believe her even though her younger sister, also abused was removed from the home after a rape exam proved her story to be true. She took the only way out she knew. At 14 she married a man 36, anything was better than the continuing abuse at home. It proved to be just as bad.
The man she married was an alcoholic, like her father. He drank all his pay and left her alone for days in a one room shack in Mexico where he had taken her to live. When he did come in, in the wee hours, she was beaten brutally. His family did nothing to intervene. In Mexico this is considered a family matter and a man's right. Even the authorities refused to intervene. At 17 with two small daughters, once again she was trapped. This time it was worse. She spoke no Spanish, and no one around her spoke English. She was not allowed to leave the house, which consisted of 6 poles cemented into the ground wrapped around with felt paper. The roof was made of tin and there were no windows or bathroom. The floor was made of dirt, it was sprinkled with water everyday before it could be swept. Finally after a beating that broke 2 of her ribs and her oldest daughters arm. The baby was only two. Her brother in law took her and her children to the American Embassy and explained the situation. They gave her a bus ticket to the border town of Laredo where her mother picked her up and left her in Dallas. With no education, she took a job as a carhop to support her children. At times she lived on the street, sleeping on the floor of the park restroom, with her back against the door and her children craddled against her to ward off the cold. Finally a woman from a project called "Project Ser Jobs for Progress" she obtained her GED and took secretarial classes hoping to find a better life for her and her children. The program also provided free childcare and helped find a decent apartment for her and the children. The program paid the rent until she was able to graduate classes, find a job and support her and her children. The program was discontinued by Former President Bush.
At age twenty she remaried. The man was 10 years her senior. He became a wonderful father to her children and they soon had two of their own. They were married 24 years during which he paid for her to continue her education in Criminal Justice. She became a Correctional Officer, then a translator/interpreter for the State and Federal Courts. With a salary in the the range of 75,000.00 combined they were able to purchase a 5 bedroom 3 bath house. He bought her a Mercedes for her first year graduation from law school. The children graduated and married and moved on. Eight grandchildren followed. Life was perfect. In her third year of law school, she was diagnosed with manic depressive illness. Her dreams of becoming an attorney were dashed. She suffered 4 suicide attempts, before being stabilized on medications. Brushing herself off she started training to become a mental health counselor. She would be a volunteer and facilitate the support groups for the next 10 years. She continued her training to recieve a degree as a "Psychiatric Rehabilitation Counselor." During this time she continued her job a a litigation paralegal which kept her in the profession of law which was her passion. But the fairytale would not last.
Due to her fathers declining health from lung cancer that spread to his brain. They moved to Mississippi, taking everything with them. Three weeks later, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the coast of Mississippi. They lost everything. Her father died three months later. Unable to obtain her medication she became unstable. After a year of violent mood swings she hitchedhiked to Texas looking for the home they no longer owned. Once again she was homeless and alone. Living in the streets, sleeping against abandoned buildings. It was in this period that she met her current abuser.
He took her in explaining that he had a 2 year old son and needed a nanny. She would be paid to stay home with the little boy, cook and clean. She was supposed to be able to keep her little check for necessties. It worked for about two weeks before he started demanding sex and needing to borrow money for this and that. It wasn't long after that he began abusing both physically and mentally. The police were called on several occasions but since he always left they never evn pressed charges. They took pictures of the black eyes, the broken bones, and one time a deep slash in her side from a carpenters knife. Still nothing was done and in the State of Texas a third time domestic violence charge is a felony, but no warrants were issued. The cases were dropped. The abuse would continue for 4 years. He took the jewerly her mom gave her, even the ring that was on her fathers hand when he passed away and pawned it to buy beer. The laptop she bought herself for christmas and anything of value all were lost in the pawnshop. The walker she needed to walk due to crippling arthiritis he sold to his friend. Once again she is isolated, no family, not allowed to have friends. he checks her phone and takes her mail.
This christmas She works cooking and cleaning. He wakes up waiting on breakfast in bed as usual. Hurry up, my daughter is coming and I need everything ready. She hurries back to the kitchen to finish her job. At 4:30 his family arrives. She is just finishing up the last of the dinner she has been working on. When the gravy is done and the table is set he takes her by the shoulders and shoves her out of the way, "Move so I can serve them". With tears of shame stinging her eyes and a bowed head she retreats to her room , what she refers to as the maid quarters. She doesn't eat any of the dinner she worked so hard to prepare. It doesn't matter, by now she has no appetite. She watches as his daughter takes out plates full of the food she paid for and cooked, leaving behind another mess that she will ultimately have to clean again. Then a thought crosses her mind. Why should she clean? She didn't eat. He gave all the food away to his family to take home. She goes to bed leaving everything as it is.
A week passes and she still doesn't make any move to clean, wash or cook. She has had enough. She may be mentally ill but not stupid. It's finally over.
NEW YEARS 2010
She goes to throw the trash and finds his brother, a junkie and a drunk, sleeping outside the backdoor in the hall. She takes the laundry to the washteria. She callas him "I want him gone when I get home." He picks her up with not only one but two brothers, both the same...good for nothing. Her wants to go to a resturant to eat, she refuses to get out of the car. My brother is paying for it, he said. "your brother has already spent all his money on drugs and alcohol" thats why he was sleeping outside the door. I want him gone! He hits her in the face with his fist. He then pulls her out of the car by the hair, pulling out handsful of her hair. But she's too mad to cry. She dials 911 for the police. he runs away.
The next call is the most important call she will ever make. It is to a battered womens shelter called "The Family Place." Through tears she tells the lady her story. I don't need job training, clothing or anything else. I just need a place to stay until my social security check comes in. The lady is more than understanding. You are in luck, there are people moving out. Call us on monday. We will put you in a safe house and help you get on your feet. You don't have to be afraid anymore. She smiles for the first time in a long time. They have just given her the best gift of all "FREEDOM".
They are picking me up on monday. Everything is packed.