By Steve McRee
No Woman Deserves to Be Abused — but there are women right here in our community who may not know that. Trapped in a cycle of abuse that often begins in childhood, many victims of domestic violence believe, “I did something that caused him to snap,” or, “It just happened the one time — he’d never do it again,” or, “Yes, he drank a little too much, and he did hurt me, but he’d never hurt the kids.”
But women like Nicole* know there’s no amount of walking on eggshells that can keep an abuser in line for long. They know it never stops after the first time. And they know abusers eventually turn their cruelty toward children in the home.
She knows all that now, but at 18, she just wanted to be loved.
Abuse started early
Nicole was taken from her drug-addicted parents when she was just a baby. She was severely neglected and abused — in fact, she nearly starved because they put water in her bottles instead of formula. She grew up with a loving, long-term foster mom, but she never had a strong male example. When she met Aaron*, she felt she had found the love she’d been missing.
But after he discovered she was pregnant, Aaron changed. Like many women who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy, Nicole was abused for the first time while carrying their child. Verbal abuse became physical abuse. “He pushed me once when I had my daughter in my arms. Thank goodness she landed on the couch instead of on the floor.”
His cruelty didn’t stop there. One night, Nicole came home from work, and right away she knew something was terribly wrong with her daughter. She took the baby from Aaron and rushed her to the doctor. Her daughter had rib fractures on both sides of her body!
Between 60-80% of abusers also abuse children in the home.Nicole left Aaron, but it was a terrifying choice. She was newly pregnant with a son. Aaron hasn’t been a part of his children’s lives since Nicole’s little boy was 6 months old.
A breaking point
When Nicole met Dan*, he seemed so different. He was a church-going man, for starters, and he genuinely seemed to love her kids. She didn’t realize his drinking was a problem until she was expecting another child. After drinking, Dan often hit her. He also hit her kids.
She knew it had to stop. One morning, Nicole told Dan she wanted him to leave. She tried to drive him to his uncle’s house, but Dan began punching her in the car. “I was so frantic and scared,” she remembers.
She pulled over at a gas station to call the police, but Dan came out of the car and went after her, yelling and screaming at her. “I walked around with my head down, trying to get to the phone to call police.” Dan followed her and kept beating her. “He hit me across the face in front of everyone. They all just watched. No one was doing anything to help me.”
Dan didn’t stop until police came. He went to jail for months over the attack.
At this point, Nicole’s third baby was just 8 months old — and she was on her own yet again.
After escaping Dan, Nicole moved to a better area and was working and taking care of her kids. Things seemed to be on an upswing. “Dan called me and talked me into coming to the apartment where he was living. I was hoping he had changed, but because I broke the restraining order in place to keep us safe, I lost custody of my kids for a year. I was so confused.”
“I did everything I could to get them back. Made every court date. Followed everything they wanted me to do to get them back. Took domestic violence classes. Went to therapy. And I got them back.”
A new start
Nicole came to Shepherd’s Gate because she needed help to get back on her feet.
Today, Nicole’s life is starting to look very different. “I’m learning a lot of different things about Christ — it’s been good. My kids, they’re happy, and they get to play with other kids. They go to school.”
“Probably my favorite thing, though, is being able to get back in touch with myself . . . and find out who I really am. I’m finally able to heal from the past.”
Nicole now envisions a completely new kind of future: “I’d love to have a job that pays well enough for me to take care of everyone. I want to pass down some good memories to my kids. Share Christ with them. Be a good mom.”
How thankful she is that people like you are helping her build a strong life for herself and for her precious kids!
We are thankful too. We can’t rescue these amazing women without your partnership, and we’re so grateful for your prayers and support!
*Names changed to protect privacy.