I still remember the day we left. He was facing charges that summer for Brandishing a Weapon, namely a .357 magnum in my face. My husband made me try to back out of the charges, but I wasn’t able to. The District Attorney’s office protected victims of Domestic Violence by not allowing them to drop any accusations, the DA handled it instead. I came up with the idea that I would go stay with a friend in another state, then promise to come back before school started again; I’d not be able to testify at the trial and the charges would have to be dropped. The only caveat was I’d take my girls. He didn’t like that, but finally relented.
All the details were arranged, and my father sent money for airfare. My husband had taken half the money before I had the chance to hide it, but I still had enough for airline tickets and two months rent.
The airline allowed two suitcases each, and there were three of us. I filled five suitcases with favorite blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, and clothes for the kids, leaving one for me. It was summer, so we didn’t need too may clothes. I hid a few small things that were special to me inside the girls’ socks and shoes, but other than that, the day after school ended we left with nothing else…except trust and hope.
A stranger (a friend of my friend), met us at the airport; one mother with two small children, scared, shell-shocked and with no idea what would happen next. I had arranged for an apartment with some of my father’s money, but we had no furniture, no food, and barely any money left. When we got there, scores of women started filing in with food, cast-off furniture, toys, and even a small TV with a VCR and some kids movies. I can remember just sliding down the wall to the floor and crying with relief.
The next couple years were a nightmare, but we made it through, I ended up with sole protective custody of my daughters. There were times when my bipolar disorder reared it’s ugly head, but I knew I had to hold it together for the sake of my girls. About 16 years later, we are thriving, for the most part. PTSD affects my daughters and I, but we all handle it differently. My eldest daughter married a wonderful young man and now has three boys, and is doing well at the university. My younger daughter struggles, but she’s in cosmetology school. And you already know…I lived happily ever after.