Jennifer fell in love with Erick the first time they met. They were married within a few months and she became pregnant right away. Over the next few years, they had two more children. One night Erick, who was very drunk, got very angry and began hitting Jennifer. The next morning he apologized; she knew he did not really mean to hurt her. Then it happened again, and again, and again. Each time she had to give a different excuse to her friends and family about how she was injured. “I fell. I tripped. I am such a klutz!”
One night Erick was so enraged he grabbed his toolbox from the garage and threw it at her head. Jennifer suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and a black eye. She could not take it anymore and filed charges against him. He went to jail and she went into a domestic violence shelter. Jennifer went back to live with him when he was released from jail, because she thought that living with him would be better for the kids.
Two months later, Erick became angry once again, took a knife from the kitchen drawer, and cut her across the forehead. She screamed, kicked, and somehow got out of the home, although she could barely see with blood pouring down her face. She knocked on her neighbor’s door in the middle of the night and had to leave her young children behind.
The Department of Child & Family Services opened a case and Jennifer lost custody of her children. Just when she was about to give up hope, she reached out to the Center’s Domestic Violence Program. She finally felt safe. She attended classes where she learned how to recognize the signs of domestic violence. The staff helped her navigate through court proceedings. Eventually DCFS closed the case, and she regained custody of her children. The case managers helped to find her housing and she got a job. Jennifer, who once believed her life was over, now has hope for the future.