I was a waitress in a Chinese restaurant when I met my children's father. I felt sorry for him because his ex-girlfriend had taken off to another state with his son. We started seeing a lot of each other, and soon I moved in with him. Harry always wanted to know where I was and who I was with. He rarely "approved" of either because he thought I was being unfaithful. Slowly I started losing touch with who I was. I also had less contact with my family. The physical abuse started around this time.
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He would bring me to work late and create scenes so that I got fired. My life became a series of decisions about how to keep him from getting angry with me. Harry wanted to control my finances. I was out of work and started to go into debt with credit cards. He felt as though I owed him because I was not working. I became pregnant. The pregnancy gave me tangible proof that I loved Harry, but that did not stop him from being abusive towards me.
We both went back to college. I was glad to be back in school, but again Harry made sure that he knew where I was all the time. I had my daughter and thought this would turn things around. Unfortunately, I think that having someone else for me to focus on infuriated Harry and made our relationship more strained. I became pregnant again two years later, and my life hit an all-time low. I would threaten to leave, and Harry would threaten that he would make me lose custody of my daughter.
I made a plan to leave Harry on an evening that he was having an overnight medical test. By the next morning when I was due to pick him up from the hospital, my daughter and I were 90 miles north in a shelter. We were on welfare and living with rodents and insects, but I was safe from him. I was able to make my own decisions and come and go as I pleased. Since shelters only house you for 12 weeks, I needed to find another place to go. The shelter told me about The Second Step.
I remember dressing for my interview with The Second Step just as I would for a job interview, because living there sounded so appealing. At my interview, I told them of my plans to finish school and get off assistance. I was hoping they would find me ambitious enough to accept me. It was a clean house, in a good neighborhood. I wanted to get in badly. When I finally got the news that I had been accepted, I was ecstatic.
When I first got to The Second Step, the room was made up for us as if we were treasured guests. Also, I was expected to get a job or go to school and to manage my own finances. These expectations indicated someone had enough confidence that I would achieve those things, something I had not felt in a long time.
The Second Step has played a major role in making my life what it is today. I now have a job and have shed every form of assistance from the federal government. This past October my new boyfriend and I bought our first house. Thank you, Second Step.