Maria (not her real name) told me that she was needed to leave Waco and go far, far away.
“How far away is far away?” I asked.
“I’ve already said goodbye to all my family. My brothers, my sisters, nieces and nephews,” she said. “I know that I probably can never see them again, if I want to keep my child safe.”
Our survivors give up so much. They leave behind the practical stuff of life: furniture, hygiene items, school supplies, clothing, toys, televisions, video games, pots & pans, dishes and table ware, towels & linens – all those items that we take for granted. But all replaceable.
Sometimes they escape with nothing – no driver’s license, birth certificates, marriage licenses, immunization records, social security cards. They walk away from their cars, their health insurance, family pictures – all those items that were jointly shared. They leave behind their beloved pets and animals. May be they were lucky and were able to take a purse and few prized possessions. Sometimes they are just glad to be alive with nothing.
Beyond all those things, they give up so much more. They give up all dreams they had of a loving family. They have to face reality that he is not a “knight in shining armor”. Sometimes, they give up all having a father figure in their home. Many times, they walk away leaving behind their extended family and almost all their friends.
Throughout this reflection I’ve used the pronounce “she” because the majority of our survivors are women, but domestic violence has the same effect on male survivors. It has the same impact on same sex couples. All too often the survivor ends up feeling ashamed and guilty for breaking the “eternal covenant of marriage,” when in fact, the violence has fracture all the hopes, dreams and promises of family life together. Whether the relationship was one of marriage or more informal, the dream is scattered.
Maria will probably never be truly safe and she will always be looking over her shoulder. For the sake of her safety and her child, she is forced to flee. She should not have to do that, but right now that is the only choice she has. Here at Family Abuse Center, we will provide her with a safe temporary home and provide assistance for her to move to another place of safety, all the while hoping and praying that he won’t find her and that her child will grow up in a violence-free home. I wish the world was different, but for now it is the best we can do to protect her.
Kathy Reid, Executive Director