“I knew if I went back I would be killed,” said Valerie in discussing why she and her two daughters had to live in her car at times. Like many women who experience abuse, the violence didn’t start until several years into the marriage. “He threw me from the car on the expressway,” she said, “and another time locked me in the trunk of his car.”
Constantly in fear for their lives, Valerie and her two daughters kept garbage bags with clothes and other necessities in a closet – in the event they would have to escape.
“I learned to cover up the bruises,” Valerie said. “Afterwards it would be good for a while and then start up again.”
A chance encounter through her work at a hospital led Valerie to a domestic abuse seminar co-sponsored by Family Shelter Service. There she met Family Shelter Service staff members who opened doors for Valerie she never thought existed.
“The people at Family Shelter Service have become part of my family,” Valerie said. “With the help that they’ve given me, I can see the birds and the trees for the first time – I can breathe again. To this day I watch my children sleep – it is such a blessing.”