Alvin was controlling, abusive and constantly playing the victim when, in reality, his victim was his wife, and he was the bully. He constantly forced his wife of almost two years, to believe she was in the wrong and that she contributed to his unhappiness. It took Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA) to help Jennifer stare from the outside in at her situation. It was not her fault.
Jennifer contacted the Texas Attorney General’s office about child support services and that is when she confided in them that she was experiencing abuse at home and wanted a divorce. They directed her to LSLA for free legal assistance. Jennifer didn’t know where to begin when her case was accepted because this was the first time she had finally escaped and was ready to move on.
Alvin was previously married and Jennifer had a son with a previous person who she was never married to. She was a single mother with a supportive family who was unfamiliar with the physical, verbal and emotionally abusive behavior signs Alvin displayed. They were on and off together for 10 years before deciding to get married, but in those 10 years, he constantly broke up with her and then manipulated her with violence. He took advantage of her emotions and knew he could get away with it every time because it had become a normal routine for them.
“He manipulated me into getting back together with him by cutting his wrists and threatening to kill himself. We are off and on for so many years and I just kept going back to him. It became a habit. I felt like he could get anyone else and I could only have him, so I stayed. It felt normal,” Jennifer said.
He always had a violent temper but never actually hurt her physically. Alvin would throw things, and break and punch objects. He would insult Jennifer and emotionally attack her. When Jennifer came home late from work, Alvin would violently take out his anger on her, accusing her of cheating. She didn’t realize at the time it was wrong to be treated this way. She tolerated his behavior. It was always the same argument, the same conversations and the same accusations. Alvin blamed everything on her.
“They helped me change the way I saw things and made me realize I didn’t want to be around a person like that anymore. If your team didn’t help me, I would never have left,” Jennifer said.
When Jennifer became pregnant with their child, Alvin constantly accused Jennifer of lying and said it wasn’t his. He even went as far as saying he was going to kill the baby because it wasn’t his. The constant emotional abuse about the father of their baby triggered Jennifer to become depressed and suicidal.
“When I was six months pregnant, I was depressed from all the abuse, so I grabbed the shotgun and I put it in the car and planned on never returning. I was going to kill myself, but I stopped halfway to my destination and I called for help,” Jennifer said. “Fort Bend County showed up and took me to Ben Taub Hospital where I ended up staying for a week to get help.”
After speaking with her attorney Cheranda Robertson, Jennifer realized it wasn’t her fault. After going through all the messages, screenshots, and crying for hours, she realized she could not take the abuse any longer. Cheranda helped her understand that it was not her fault for being abused.
“I was a mess when I first called LSLA. I was crying, talking in circles and couldn’t get my sentences straight but then LSLA helped me more than I could ever imagine and now I am doing so much better,” Jennifer said. “I decided not to keep living a miserable life and to put my foot down and move on.”
Attorney Robertson got Jennifer divorced from Alvin and is in the process of obtaining a temporary protective order that way Alvin can still see his son, but won’t be allowed to harm them. Jennifer now realizes she is a survivor of domestic abuse and has some words of advice for other victims experiencing unhealthy relationships.
“I called the police for help three times and I hung up twice. It’s not easy going through an abusive relationship and you doubt yourself a lot. Change is also never easy. Right is right and wrong is wrong and everything about this was wrong,” Jennifer said. “Even though everyone’s situation is different, no one deserves that type of treatment. There are many women out there that are still in these situations, and so I hope they get the help they need. For me, I have received more than enough help from LSLA.”
*Names were changed to protect the identity of the client