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In my mind, it never ends. I can hear myself screaming and begging him to stop. My two year old son is hiding under his bed and shaking because he knows that Daddy is hurting Mommy again. My daughter is crying helplessly in her crib. At six months of age, even she knows that something is wrong. As I stare at the gun through my swollen eyes, I realize that if I make it through the night, I have to get us out of this house. I have to find a safe place for us to hide. I know the police will not help me. They never have. All I can do as I wait for his fists to tire is to think back on my life and wonder where it had gone wrong.
As a child, I was enrolled in the Gifted and Talented program, which is the Texas version of Advanced Placement courses. The Daughters of the American Revolution gave me an award for a genealogy project and my team was the only one in the district that made it to the Odyssey of the Mind state-level competitions. I also competed in numerous spelling bees. Between drama class and the National Honor Society, my middle school and junior high school years were busy, but fun. In my junior year of high school, I was informed that I was in the Who’s Who high school edition. I worked after school and enjoyed volunteering at the hospital in the cancer center in my free time. I found myself inspired by their courage and it helped to keep me grounded in my priorities.
In 1993, those priorities took a different turn. I realized that I was pregnant. After I got married, I found that the school district frowned upon pregnant students, married or not. I elected to receive my GED and begin college. I was on both the President’s and Dean’s List every semester. I was happy with the choices that I had made. Being a wife was a joy and I had a wonderful son.
My husband’s job took him out of town occasionally for a week or two. One day he came home from a trip, and everything had changed. He was acting irrationally and being verbally abusive. He would stay out all night and, when he was at home, nothing could make him happy. I did not know it then, but he had become addicted to drugs and other women.

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