This letter was submitted by Sarah, a client from Friends of Abused Families.
For almost 24 years, I had been married to a man I thought would be my partner for life. Instead, he turned out to be a monster who abused me emotionally, mentally, verbally, and sexually.
I remember one night after he raped me, I prayed I would go to sleep and not wake up. Death would be better than the torture I was going through. But the love for my son kept me hanging on. I had to stay alive. I could not bear the thought of leaving him with that monster.
One day, the therapist I was seeing told me about Friends of Abused Families and gave me the number for their crisis line. With one last shred of hope, I made the phone call that would save my life. I called the crisis line and talked to a wonderful, caring person named Leah. For many months, I had regular conversations with her. She showed me the cycle of domestic violence and gradually I came to understand the ways my husband was abusing me.
Each session not only armed me with knowledge, but also validation and self-esteem. I left with more strength but I was still too afraid to leave. Leah always told me the shelter would be open to me when I was ready. On one visit, she gave me a tour. She empowered me with information but I appreciated that she allowed me to make my own decisions. The way she treated me was so different than what I was used to. It made me feel truly valued and cared about.
Finally, I told Leah that I couldn’t take it anymore. I was ready to leave my husband and stay at the shelter. As scary as it was to take that first step, it was the best decision I ever made. That night, I visited the shelter’s Relaxation Room. I noticed some pictures on the door… birds flying away. It reminded me of all the times I wished I was a bird so that I could fly away to a safe place. I realized then that I had found that safe place. I was free.