Imagine not knowing if you would be alive to see the next day. Imagine having to protect your children from someone who would hit them, push them and drag them out of the house. Sharon Smith was terrified when she was married to James, as he would threaten her and abuse her to where she thought she would never escape her fear. She felt trapped.
James was an alcoholic, an abuser and an attacker, but he was also a husband and a father to a wife and four children; two daughters ages 23, 20, and two sons ages 9 and 7. James had a habit of driving the children while drunk. He would also emotionally harass them with hateful, descriptive text messages. All four of the children were terrified of their father and did not want to be near him. They feared he would hurt them again. Sharon didn’t tolerate his behavior but when she attempted to call the police, James threatened her life.
“If I tried to call the police he would tell me I would be dead before they got here and I believed him,” Sharon said.
There were times when their 20-year-old daughter would supervise visits if her mom wasn’t home to look after the young boys. She would not only have to take care of her brothers, but respond to James’ violent behavior and physical abuse.
“She would stand up for what was right. She would get in his face and do whatever it took to protect those boys,” Sharon said. “She was the other parent. Not him.”
Sharon knew she was a victim of crime and turned to Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA) to file for divorce. She knew enough was enough. “God had answered a prayer,” she said about LSLA accepting her case. LSLA fought for Sharon and won. She was able to keep her property, her children and James was only allowed supervised visits on every first and third weekend of each month. Sharon felt relief for both herself and her children.
To overcome the trauma and abuse she and her family suffered, she has begun counseling and has her friends for emotional support. Sharon wants others going through domestic violence to always keep searching for justice.
“Never give up. There is a way out. Someone will help you and accept you. You can’t keep living in that situation, Sharon said. “Lone Star Legal Aid impacted my life. They have changed my life. If I hadn’t of found them when I did, I would have been dead by now.”
*Names were changed to protect the client’s identity.