DENVER — During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, stories of survival aren’t always heard. This year, SafeHouse Denver and a survivor wanted to change that by speaking out.
This survivor chose to share her story as long as 9NEWS concealed her identity. She hopes her story will prevent this from happening to someone else.
She’s been in Colorado for a little more than a year after escaping from an abusive relationship in another state. She says her kids are what keep her going.
"They're my strength,” she said.
She views Colorado as the safest place she’s ever been in her life after experiencing violence and abuse at the age of 6.
"I was sexually abused by my family members. Everybody is like she's a liar, she's crazy. I was the problem, you know,” she said.
She says the abuse went on for years until she found a way out at the age of 13.
"I was struggling I was in the streets and stuff. I was in a shelter. That was my first time being in a domestic violence shelter. I was doing good, I was going to school, counseling, like working on myself,” she said.
Things were finally going well, then she met a man in her early 20s that changed everything.
"A friend introduced me to him you know,” she said.
He immediately offered her and her kids a way out of the shelter. For her, this was a dream.
"So right away he's like I'll get you out of there. He got us a house, a car, and to me, that was like wow, finally,” she said.
But it wasn’t the freedom she hoped for. Her way out also came with isolation.
"Once I moved in with him, I wasn't allowed to go to school anymore, I wasn't allowed to talk to anybody, I wasn't allowed to work on myself or continue with the counseling and stuff. I had to be a wife, a housewife…all my attention had to be on him. He was just jealous. I did see some red flags but at that point, I was so excited. I had a house,” she said.
She had the things she always hoped for. But the payback only got higher.
"He would drink. He was an alcoholic,” she said.
The alcohol only led to abuse.
"Insults, abusive, kids started seeing it. He would kick me out of the house with the kids. I would end up going back to him because he was a provider. So, it was totally different, like why am I here in a shelter when I have my house you know,” she said.
She thought things would get better. Instead, the abuse escalated even more.
"He would drag me, pull my hair. And he would always tell me where are you going to go nobody wants you. And I'd be like yeah, you're right, where am I going to go. So, I put up with it,” she said.
After one fight her kids witnessed, she decided to leave for good this time.
"They're like mommy you can't lie to us anymore. I'm like I'm sorry, I promise you guys we're going to leave. So, I ended up leaving and went back to the shelter. I was doing really good. I started working, you know. Working, got a vehicle, things were looking better,” she said.
She started to get support from her family. Until she met another man.
"He saw how weak I was. I ran to the wrong person. An abuser. They prey on the weak. And I was at my weakest, I was on drugs. I saw the red flags with him right away because of my ex. The control, the everything right away. I tried to leave him,” she said.
She saw the red flags and decided not to go down the same path. She ignored his calls. But then threats began.
"He was always threatening me. I'm going to kill you, and your kids. There was one of the times we were driving, and he had the gun to my head, and he shot,” she said.
She wasn't hurt that time. But the threat to her life and others remained.
"Yeah and everybody’s life because everybody’s life was in danger," she said. "Oh yeah. That was like this thrill. Me begging for my life crying."
It finally came to an end once police got involved.
"So finally, he ended up getting arrested. And that was just like, I could breathe,” she said.
Not only room to breathe, but room to create a new life for her and her family here in Colorado.
"Me last year I wouldn't picture myself here. And now we're like just like me and my kids, I don't talk to no man. I don't make friends. I'm just healing trying to heal,” she said.
Finally, a healing point in her life, after living most of it in abuse. It's abuse she doesn’t want anyone else to experience. That’s why she shares her story, while also providing advice.
"There is help out there. There is hope. There are the red flags right away, jealousy, control, financially too. I just hope I get to give someone the courage and the strength they need so they don't have to go through all that I went through you know," she said. "I had to learn the hard way. I don't wish anyone to go through that. I got away. But maybe the next girl won't get away."
WATCH BELOW: Interview with SafeHouse Denver
Below is a list of resources for victims and survivors experiencing domestic violence.
- Crisis Center (303)-688-1094 /Crisis Line (303)-688-8484
- Family Tree (303)422-2133 / Crisis Line (303)-420-6752
- Gateway Domestic Violence Services (303)-343-1856/ Crisis Line (303)-343-1851
- SafeHouse Denver (303)-318-9959/ Crisis Line (303)-318-9989
- Rose Andom Center (720)-337-4400
- Project SafeGuard and Legal Advocacy
- Servicios de la Raza (303)-458-5851
- The Initiative (303)-839-5510
- National Domestic Violence Hotline 1(800)-799-7233/ TTY 1(800)-787-3324
- DOVE TTY/Voice (303)-831-7932/ Crisis Line (303)-831-7874
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