Claudette’s Story: Victim to Victor
Claudette’s story is like so many others – even yours perhaps. She fell in love, got married, had children, purchased a home – by all appearances she had a happy family. But, as in all relationships, there was so much that the outside world could not see.
“It’s the things that happen inside the walls of your home—within your family unit that no one else sees.”
Emotional abuse happens so gradually it can be unrecognizable; whittling away of one’s entire being, leaving victim’s feeling trapped, fearful, and unable to leave. “He wouldn’t hit me but he would make threatening comments, grab me by my arm or my hand, pull me, hold me where I could not move or corner me where I couldn’t force my way out, trapping me. There was just this imperceptible sense of him controlling me, restricting me from moving, preventing me from trying to get out.”
All of those seeds he planted in my head over the years telling me, “You can’t leave! I can’t live without you! If you even think about leaving me, I’ll kill you and my son!”
Many abusers start with small increments of control, sometimes under the guise of helping, over finances, career choices, social outings, family connections, and self-esteem. “At the time these incidences seemed so trivial but they continued and they escalated. I didn’t see it as being abusive; I saw it as him just being a man trying to get his point across. I made excuses…even to my son.”
“I couldn’t see that I was being abused…at the time that I was really being abused!”
Then one night there could be no more excuses. Claudette’s husband punched her repeatedly in the head and tortured her by pouring buckets of water over her. And tragically, Claudette’s son Marcus, saw far more than any 13-year-old should have to see.
“I saw my son staring at me…and in his eyes I finally found strength to overcome my fears and walk out that door.”
Claudette and Marcus left their home and went to a hotel. “I didn’t know to call the police—I should have. I just knew I needed to find a safe place for me and my son just to collect my thoughts and figure out what just happened.” They stayed at the hotel the whole weekend; fearful, paranoid, and hiding. After a lot of convincing by her daughter, Claudette drove to the Coon Rapids police department to report the abuse; where they connected Claudette with Alexandra House.
“The officer actually called Alexandra House for me—that’s how I found Alexandra House.”
Claudette and Marcus arrived at Alexandra House where they received the help they needed. They found other families going through similar situations and were offered resources and support to help them organize their thoughts, plan the next steps, and begin to heal.
“For the first time in three days, I was able to breathe. I felt safe…my son was safe. We were in a safe place.”
Claudette utilized many of the services offered by Alexandra House from staying in the shelter to attending support groups, to free legal advice and legal advocacy. “Alexandra House was there at a time in my life when I needed them. I can’t imagine what this process would have been without the help and support of Alexandra House. They made a difference in my life. I can look at myself in the mirror and see the results of those differences.”
“An Alexandra House advocate stood by my side in that courtroom where I faced my abuser and I took my power back. I’m not going to be a victim of domestic abuse. I’m going to be a victor.”
While unique in its own way, Claudette’s story is not uncommon. Every community struggles with domestic and sexual violence. This is a local, national, and international problem. Nationally, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime; 1 in 4 will experience sexual violence. Last year at least 34 Minnesotans lost their lives as a result of domestic violence. This year, we have already lost 12.
Too many friends, family members, and neighbors have experienced the trauma caused by violence.
But…there is HOPE! Stand with us to say “no more.”
As you consider how you will direct your year-end charitable giving, please consider how much more you can do to help those women, men, youth, and children who are living their life hidden from the outside world – feeling trapped, fearful, and unable to leave – by sending a special, tax-deductible year-end gift to Alexandra House.
We are proud to say that 83% of funds raised are directed to programs and services!
This year we would like to formally invite you to become a member of our Luminary Circle. This is a monthly giving program that will allow you to continually contribute to Alexandra House with ease. If this doesn’t seem like the right option for you, you may also give a one-time contribution. Regardless of how you choose to give; your donation today will save lives. Your generous gift will help make every family, every community, safer. Please take a moment to make a donation today.
As the only such service provider in Anoka County, your gift will support the critical services we offer that help save lives, increase safety, and empower and support individuals and families as they work towards a life free from violence.