I know that I have only met you a few times, and I normally don’t go around telling people things about myself, but I would really like to share something with you. I would like for you to share this with your group, but please don’t say any names or reveal my identity. Sometimes with things in our past, it is hard to re-visit and deal with it all over again. This is something my children and I have overcome together. I don’t want people to “feel sorry for me” or look at me differently. I am trying so hard to establish myself in the community. Please keep my identity concealed if you decide to share this. I do feel that it is a story that needs to be told. I don’t think people realize exactly what takes place at the Center.
About five years ago, I came home from the store and found my four-year-old in the bathtub crying. She had stayed home with her dad and brother while I was out. I went to her to find out what was wrong, but I couldn’t make any sense of what she was saying. She was very red and I thought it seemed odd, but maybe she had gotten her water too hot. I got her out of the tub to calm her, and that was when I realized she was so red because she had hand prints all over her legs, arms and face. I finally realized she was saying, "I’m sorry, I’m sorry." She could hardly catch her breath.
She had gotten into some fabric paint and painted EVERYTHING in her room, and her dad lost all control. I won’t go into details because I don’t think I have the heart to say, even one more time, what he did. Furious, I went to her dad and asked him what happened. Everything seemed to be in a blur, and honestly, I can’t remember what all he said, I was in total shock. I had no idea what to do. I put my kids in the car and drove for hours before I finally stopped at my aunt’s house. My aunt told me I should call the police. We had to take pictures of my little girl’s bruised body. She didn’t understand anything that was going on. I will never forget those pictures. I haven’t laid eyes on them since court, but I can still see that in my mind.
Suddenly, there was so much to think about. I wasn’t working at the time; I had no way to keep our house going with no money. I had just put my husband in jail. My children were scared to death, and what a wonderful time to find out that I was pregnant. I had never felt so abandoned and depressed in my life. Later, I found out that he had been hanging around with some different people and had gotten involved in drugs. At that point, he was in and out of jail and had turned into some stranger we didn’t know.
After moving into a “less than desirable” apartment and finally getting settled, he started stalking us. I wondered how he kept getting out of jail. Unfortunately, in some small towns, there is a buddy system. When you know everyone and have been friends with most of the police force for years, you don’t stay in jail very long. The kids and I finally had to move into a “WRAP” shelter in another town. My five-year-old son, who had seen the whole thing, would not speak to anyone for days. About a month later, we were riding in the car and he started crying and hugging his sister, telling her, “I’m sorry I told on you. I knew he was gonna whoop you. I should have waited til Mama got home. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It’s my fault we can’t see Daddy.” We had to cut contact with everyone when we went to the shelter, in order to keep him away from the kids until the court date.
Through all this time (July 03 through Jan 04) do you know who my friends were? And who went to EVERY single court date with me, who held my hand while I cried? Who bought my kids school supplies, Halloween goodies and Thanksgiving dinner to the shelter we were in? Who helped Santa get ALL those toys and clothes to my kids for Christmas? (They were so afraid Santa couldn’t find them because they were not at home.) Do you know who told me “Everything is going to work out. You CAN do this, and you and your kids are going to be FINE.” Do you know who it was that took me to my first prenatal doctor visit? When everyone else “didn’t want to be involved” or made me feel like I should have known he was going to lose it and hurt our child? Do you know who my FAMILY was?
The people at the Carl Perkins Center.
One of the guys there played football with my son every time we went. They gave my kids toys because all their stuff was somewhere in storage. They made sure my son had counseling for the anger he was feeling and couldn’t deal with. They talked to my daughter about confidence and how you are supposed to be treated and treat the people you love. They taught my son that it is never okay to turn to violence just because you are angry.
And most shocking of all…
They taught my ex-husband it’s not okay to turn to violence just because you are angry. After his time in jail away from the kids and away from drugs, he realized he needed help. They provided him with counseling and anger management and a friend to call when he felt out of control. And after years of rebuilding trust and relationships, my kids can see their dad. One of the hardest things for them was missing him SO much. Even after what happened, they still love their dad so much. The Carl Perkins Center gave them their dad back, one they don’t have to be afraid of.
Thanks you to the Carl Perkins Center! More than I can ever say—THANK YOU! Not only for helping us through the hardest thing we had ever dealt with but for breaking a cycle of child abuse. My son could have easily learned those habits and do the same to his family in the future. But now he has learned a better way. My daughter knows she does not deserve to ever be treated that way. And their dad had gained control over his life.
Thank you for breaking the cycle of child abuse.