You Deserve Love

Posted on June 06, 2022

You are in a loving relationship with Ethan. You live together and have a child, who is your world. Slowly—you can’t even put a finger on when it happens—you see that Ethan has a hard edge. At first it seems like love. He always wants to know where you are going and what you are doing. You adjust because you’re young, you’ve heard that relationships take work, and you love him.

Over time, it almost seems like Ethan has become two different people—one rational and caring, the other crazy and mean. You cannot predict when he will get angry because it seems random. He blames you for things that aren’t your fault. Makes demands and becomes irate when you don’t or can’t comply. Threatens to hurt you if you don’t obey him.

He also confirms your greatest fears—that you are unattractive, unlovable and unworthy. Your self-confidence sinks and you believe what he tells you, that you could never make it on your own.

Like many people experiencing domestic violence, Brianna tried and tried to make the relationship work—until Ethan crossed a line.

“The day that I decided to leave my abuser was when he was strangling me in front of our son,” Brianna says. “He was only two and he was saying things like, ‘No, Daddy! Daddy, stop!’ And then Ethan pushed him down.”

“That was my snap of reality because I had tried to leave multiple times before. But as soon as he put my child in danger—that was the line he crossed. I knew that if my son saw me going through that, he would think it was okay to hurt others or get hurt himself.”

As soon as Ethan left for work, Brianna called her mom, who told her to go to Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety (formerly Children’s Inn).

“When I first came to Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety, I was a mess. I just sat at the dinner table and cried in my food. It felt like it was the end of the world.”

“But everyone accepted my mess,” says Brianna. “And they offered unconditional support: you're still beautiful. You're still worthy of love. And I started crying because I just felt so accepted and loved. There was no, ‘Oh you're bad’ or, ‘You don't matter.’ Well, you do matter. And your child matters.”

“They were really kind,” she says. “Really sweet, helpful, non-judgmental people. I found a lot of hope and support for the future. They got me into counseling. They advocated for me in court. They helped me with my child. And they helped me get into the place that we're living in right now.”

Brianna tried co-parenting with Ethan, but it didn’t work because he continued to be abusive. Eventually they worked out a co-parenting arrangement with supervised visits.

And Brianna has worked hard to become the parent her child needs and deserves.

“She is very hands-on with her son,” says Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety Mental Health Therapist Jody Bockorny. “She is gentle—she acknowledges his feelings and she gets down at his level, eye-to-eye, and explains why Mommy doesn't want you to do this or why this isn't good for you at this time. And she’s just very proactive, learning about early childhood education, attending to any medical needs.”

Recently, people have noticed that you now have a warm and protective presence. You are told that you radiate calm and confidence. For the first time in years, you feel at peace.

And now that you can take better care of your son, and keep him in a safe environment, it feels like you love him more, if that’s even possible. And what’s even more amazing to you is that you have come to love yourself.

“I've known Brianna since she first came to Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety,” says Jody. “It's been an honor and a privilege to be a part of her journey. To see her progress, success and accomplishments—and to watch her be a confident, independent woman and a wonderful mom. She can do anything she puts her mind to.”

Brianna continues to be thankful for Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety. “I just bring the story back around to Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety because that's where it really started. That's where I got my confidence back. That's where I got the empowerment back,” she says.

“And if I hear someone talking about abuse or someone they know who has been or is being abused, I always tell them about Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety. Even if you don’t stay there, please get connected with them.”

“They have resources,” Brianna says. “They have help. They have kind hearts.”