Domestic abuse survivor received support from diocese

Fri, Oct 27th 2017 04:15 pm
Staff Reporter
Angel, a pregnant young mother who is a survivor of domestic violence, reads the Bible with her son. (Dan Cappellazzo/Staff Photographer)
Angel, a pregnant young mother who is a survivor of domestic violence, reads the Bible with her son. (Dan Cappellazzo/Staff Photographer)

For years, Angel (name has been changed) was a victim of domestic violence and felt like she was alone with no one to help her. However, this young mother overcame difficult circumstances with support and assistance from diocesan staff, and is currently living at a local women's shelter with her children after getting the help she needed to escape from her abuser and begin the long road towards healing.

Angel, the mother of three children with a fourth on the way, recalled how she contacted the diocese for help since she changed her mind about getting an abortion and had heard about services that the diocese offers for pregnant women. Over the last five years, Angel had had on-and-off contact with her ex-boyfriend and the father of her youngest children, but is now out of the situation.

In 2013, Angel became pregnant and considered getting an abortion because of the terrible situation that she was in, one she never thought she would experience. "I was very angry, and just in a bad place, so I reached out to another ministry to let them know that I was pregnant and was going to have an abortion."

"I was mad because I felt like there was no help. They put me in touch with the diocese, and Cheryl got a hold of me immediately after making the phone call, within 24 hours," Angel said, referring to Cheryl Calire, diocesan director of Pro-Life Activities, with whom she has kept in touch for years.

For her first contact with Calire, she made the call because she believed the father of her child was not going to be a good father figure or loving partner, and she did not know what to do. Calire "pulled together every resource that she could" to address the situation, Angel recalled. "She told me that whatever my decision was, basically they would be there to support me. They didn't make me feel condemned, they didn't make me feel like some other ministries where you're going straight to hell if you make this decision."

The baby's father was abusive and out of the picture for most of Angel's pregnancy, but toward the end, he came back into her life and contributed to the stress of the situation, she said. However, Angel recalled how Calire and others helped her by throwing a shower to collect needed items for her baby.

"It had progressively gotten much worse, but he stayed in my life. We had another baby in 2016 and now I am pregnant again, but I am out of this situation with him completely. There are a lot of legal issues," Angel said. "Cheryl has always been there for me. It's something that I never had."

While the situation has been a "nightmare" for Angel, including police and court involvement with her ex, Calire remained a steady presence in her life on whom she leaned for help, and Angel's abuser came to realize this. "He tried to close everybody out of my life, even though they really made our son's life possible," Angel said. "Cheryl saved my son's life. I really believe that, and (my ex) made me cut communication off with them for a time. They had us on their Christmas list, and he didn't want us to be on their list."

It was a constant control, pride and ego issue in dealing with him, she said. The last time Angel reached out to Calire, she stressed the situation had again gotten out of control and he had entirely stripped all of her freedom and dignity from her. As a result, Calire connected Angel with social services and gave her a final push she needed in order to get out of the situation and ensure her family is, and remains, safe.

Today, Angel is committed to being the best mother she can be for her children. She is getting prenatal care, has a safety plan and is living in a secure building with orders of protection in place.

The last five years were the "hardest I could possibly imagine," and she noted how it is impossible for those who have never been in a similar situation to judge her for her actions in dealing with her ex. "Even when I felt that there was no other option, and now I'm about to have my fourth child with no husband and I lost my career, lost my income, now my mind has changed," Angel said. "I know that it's possible. I know that I have to continue making the right choices, and making the right choices for my children."  

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