Life experiences are sometimes hard to deal with. Growing up, my father
was a mean alcoholic. For as long as I can remember, he was physically and verbally abusive to my mother. Abusive
relationships were "normal" to me, and it wasn't long before I was on the same path.
When I was 19, during an altercation with my very abusive boyfriend, he
picked up a gun, pointed it at me and pulled the trigger, hitting me in the leg. Then, he turned it on himself and ended
his life right in front of me. This incident changed my life forever. I turned to drugs to numb the pain and it
wasn't long before I hooked up with another abusive man. We were both addicts, but he blamed me for our sturggles and
became incredibly abusive. Fear, and my addiction, kept me with him...
One day, I woke up and decided I needed to make a change. Enough abuse...enough
drugs...enough of it all. I left my abuser and entered the shelter. The Beaman Home has helped me by securing
counseling, attending support groups and setting goals for myself...I now am employed and living in my own apartment for the
first time in years...I continue to attend The Beaman Home support groups. The staff and volunteers have provided me
with lots of support and encouragement...my life has been violence-free and drug-free for over a year now. Thank you,
Beaman Home Staff, for your support and helping me get my life back!
...AND SO DO CHILDREN
On a warm summer's day in the late 1990s, I witnessed a couple enter my store with two very cute
little children. The parents were smaller in stature neither more than 5'3" or so and their children, a boy and a girl,
reminded me of rose-cheeked dolls...very small, tiny hands and unusually well behaved.
The couple seemed aloof and pensive as they walked about the store, and when I asked if I could
help them, he was very quick to reply with a "no, just looking" answer.
As he curtly replied "no", it happened that his beautiful daughter was touching some random accessory
on a table and it fell over, harming nothing. At that moment, a shadow of rage fell over the little man and with a violent
jerk of her tiny arm, he yanked her toward him. I think it startled me more than any of the other three of
them at this immediate reaction to the minor altercation, and I quickly chimed in that it was OK...no harm done and nothing
to worry about. Neither the father or mother responded as they walked away from me. I returned to the front of
the store thinking to myself that the little man had a quick temper...no, more like a rage. And from the look on the
children's faces and the robot-like stare of the mother, I feared the worst.
After a few brief minutes looking around, I observed him say something to his wife and, without
hesitation, the children and wife obediently turned at once to head for the door. Their van was parked outside my
front window so I could clearly watch as they left. The wife, who had obviously been instructed to get into the van,
did so in mechanical fashion and sat looking straight ahead through the entire incident about to unfold, unmoving, until they
The little man led his two tiny charges to the side door of the van directly behind the wife.
The little boy climbed in and poceeded to his seat. It was then I saw the man grasp the little girl's arms just below
the shoulders, pick her up and with unexpected rage, violently shove her into her car seat. I could see him through
the window...his face inches from hers, and I could see his head moving to the obvious threats he was hurling at her.
She made no movement while he raged on. His wife and the boy stared straight ahead.
I moved closer to the window (not 15 feet from them) separated only by glass and contemplated
what to do. In the end, I decided there was nothing I could do that wouldn't make the situation worse. But I was
determined to make sure he knew I saw.
When the little man finished with what I am guessing was a promise of further violence when they
arrived home, he slammed the side door shut, turned toward me and caught my stare. He instantly turned away and walked
to the driver's side and got in. I continued to stare unmoving as he ignored me and drove away.
I've never forgotten...and I've often wondered what happened to the tiny cherubs who graced my
store that afternoon...
Names withheld to honor DV survivor's right to confidentiality.