Meet Gabrielle: A Survivor of Domestic Violence
Gabrielle suffered verbal and physical abuse as a child, beginning when she was 5 yrs old. Her father was also a victim of terrible abuse.
She was accelerating into her young teens, with increasing physical and verbal abuse. Thrown down stairs, choked, hit in the face with no one to help her. When she went to police and family services for help, no one was willing to help her. The beatings continued and she began to drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, and often took prescription medications to numb the pain and escape. That in turn made matters worse and she was abused even more. She became active sexually in an attempt to have a man love her and accept her. After having enough of the abuse, she left home at 17, and lived in her car, with friends or anyone that would keep her for a night or two. In an attempt to change her life, she took the ASVAB test and passed with high scores, and joined the Navy at 20. She was granted a Top Secret clearance and headed to boot camp.
While in the Navy, she met her first husband, and he ended up being an abuser, attacking her through her pregnancy, raping her after giving birth. After his discharge, things got worse, he drank more and the violence accelerated. He poured Kerosene on her and tried to light her on fire when she tried to leave the house during an argument. He held her against a hot woodstove, burning her. He put a 12 gauge shot gun to her head and threatened to kill her if she left him. During one altercation, he attempted to hit her in the face with an ice skate while holding her down on the ground, so no one would ever want her. He punched her in the face while she held their infant son. While locked in a bathroom, he threatened with a knife to cut her in little pieces.
She lost one of her children in pregnancy at four months due to a beating. Phone calls to the police were not taken seriously. Although one officer in New Hampshire took her to a nearby women’s shelter in a very questionable area, he was apologetic for its condition and said he understands if she wanted to go home. It was run down and horrible. Crying, she had no options. She felt hopeless and helpless and returned to her abuser. One day he left for work and never returned.
A few years later she was in a relationship again. Though he was very kind and gentle, he cheated on her continuously. After 6 years of him coming and going, she made the decision not to allow him back home. The boy’s father hasn’t been seen or heard from since 1994. She hasn’t gotten any child support, no weekend breaks, not even a pair of shoes was purchased by their father. During this time she was able to mend her relationship with her parents, yet they didn’t help her.
Again on her own, now with three young boys, she worked to rebuild her life. As a single mother, she worked part time at a doctor’s office while attending Lanier Technical School for Medical Assisting and maintaining a 4.0 average in her classes.
The part time position became full time and she commuted 96 miles a day round trip. Although difficult, her self esteem and self worth began to improve. She was able to purchase a home, and continued to move forward.
In 1998, she decided to go into Real Estate. She secured a job at a real estate office, took online classes for licensure and the state exam. She has been a realtor since then and has been accomplished in the Million Dollar Club, the Executive Club and Presidents Club. She also works part time for a four doctor specialty physicians practice as their Marketing Liaison and has been working for them since 2006. She has four children, her three men and a little lady.
Once on her feet, she was in a position to give back. She was pleasantly surprised when she brought donations to the Community Welcome House. It looked and felt like ‘a home’. Each time she visited, a new project or improvement was underway. She was amazed at how needs and wants were being met so quickly through community involvement. She wanted to get more involved, and started coming one day a week to help wherever needed; take inventory of the rooms, speak with residents, help with resume’s or with the children, or write out thank you letters. No one knew she was a survivor, not even Linda. It took awhile before she shared her story of abuse.
In July 2007, Linda invited her to a dinner to “meet” some of the board members. She introduced Gabrielle as a survivor. No one had ever called her that. Linda helped her understand that she was a survivor. Gabrielle was nominated for a CWH board position. Gabrielle is now a CWH advisor and fundraising chair.
“It is by the grace of God that I lived through it. It is by the unfailing Love of God and my faith in HIM, that I was able to overcome, forgive and move forward with my life.
“Often those that are victims don’t want to come to a “shelter” due to condition, stigma or reputation. Community Welcome House is more than a “shelter”. It has a warm, home-like atmosphere. The feeling you get upon arriving is one of understanding, unconditional love and support. I wish there was a place like this to get help and rest when I needed it.”
§ It’s a place to come to know you will be safe.
§ It’s a place to make new friendships and develop life changing skills.
§ It’s a place to heal and to survive.
“My experience has allowed me to begin to understand the abuse I suffered was never my fault. I was a victim. The healing has begun by telling my story. I am a survivor. My children are survivors. I am successful and have a great personality. I am proud of who I am and who I’ve become. I’m a work in progress. Relationships are still hard, since it’s been a lifetime to get me to this point. But, I am ready to move on to the next step -in my journey of healing – in life – and work for the Community Welcome House.”
Thanks to Linda K, for her grace, her love and humor and her willingness to allow God to work through her in the giving of herself for the betterment of others.