When I was 15, my grandmother, who was my best friend, came to live with me and my family. She was terminally ill and when she finally passed away, I took it very hard. I was headed in the wrong direction and fast. Once you start that spiral downwards, it’s extremely hard to pull yourself out. I acted out, and in doing so I found myself turning to one thing after another, to feel something other than the deep sadness I felt.
At age 17, I found out I was pregnant. There are no right words to describe the feeling a young girl feels when she sees the test turn positive. I believe you feel every emotion there possibly is. That day changed my life.
I went to a crisis pregnancy center, where I accepted a referral to Step By Step.
My son changed my world. He tossed it upside down in the most wonderfully beautiful way possible. I knew I had to get my life together, face all my fears head on, and become a better person not just for me but him as well. Robyn, my Step By Step case manager, stayed by my side throughout my pregnancy and even after my son’s birth. She helped me with many things and pointed me in the right direction. Step by Step helped me in many ways. With them, I was able to stay strong, not lose my way, and be the best mother I could be.
I gave birth to my son Kaleb on my 18th birthday. I was doing well for a single mom. I was working two jobs. I had a place and was able to provide for what we needed. None of that would have been possible if I didn’t have Step By Step and Robyn to support me.
I then went my own way for a few years. During that time, I had another son and later got married. It wasn’t long before I started to see small but noticeable changes in my husband. At first, I blew them off thinking nothing of them; all I could see is how in love I thought I was. When I found out I was pregnant, he was excited, but I was nervous. He had become very controlling very quickly. He started wanting me to do things for him I didn’t like, and when I refused he became aggressive. He eventually laid his hands on me for the first time.
After awhile, I stopped fighting back. I was getting beaten teeth through my lip, black eyes, hand prints around my neck, and suffered months of verbal and emotional abuse.
I knew I had to leave, but how to do it and get out safely was another story.
Finally, I had an opportunity to get out. Shortly afterwards, I got in touch with Robyn from Step By Step. She helped me through so much emotionally, it was a true blessing. I had a very hard high risk pregnancy. She and Step By Step helped me get back on my feet again. With their support, I was able to do what was needed to move on with my life in a positive way.
At the time, Step by Step was working on their housing project, and I was lucky enough to become one of their first housing clients. I was able to get an annulment shortly before my son Josiah was born. Step By Step also helped me get enrolled in college, and I felt like I was getting my life back on the right track. It was so refreshing to know someone truly believed in you and saw your true potential.
A short time after Josiah’s birth, his dad was working on getting clean and sober. I never went back to him in a relationship aspect, but I wanted to be his friend and give Josiah the opportunity to have a relationship with his dad. It lasted a very short time. One night he called, yelling and acting inappropriately. I told him we could talk later when he was sober. In the middle of the night, he kicked down my front door and the next thing I knew his backhand was coming at my face. With one blow, he broke my nose and knocked me out, all while my children slept in the next room. When I came to, he was standing over me, smirking. He looked like a lion that was playing and completely satisfied with what they had done with their prey – a look I will never forget.
If I didn’t have my family and Step by Step, I don’t know what would have happened next. They helped me and my children get through this ordeal. With the strength behind me of those very influential women, I was able to do something that seemed impossible. I filed charges against him and was able to hold him fully accountable for his actions. I testified in court, and I showed up for every court date leading up to his prosecution.
Without Step By Step and the love and support I was shown from my family, I don’t know where I’d be, or my children. I know not everyone has the strong family background like I do to help them get through tough times, but they have the support of Step By Step and it is such a blessing to have a group of people like that.
The women that help the clients of Step by Step have been a blessing to me and my kids. My three sons are now 11, 9, and 5. I am 29 years old, and we are doing great. We are never looking back and only moving forward with our lives.