Three months ago, Gina was living with five daughters and her abusive boyfriend in Brooklyn. When she told him she was planning to leave him, he broke both her arms. Two weeks later, she took the girls and walked out.
I lost everything I owned, but I had to walk away. It was either that or stay there and put up with the abuse. I wasn't going to wait around until he killed me. I took the girls to my mothers house, but I heard my boyfriend was looking for me with a gun so we needed a safe place to go. I called Safe Horizon. They sent a car to pick up me and my children.
It's a relief to be here, but in some ways it's hard. You're used to having your own home. There are rules here, but it's okay. It's better than being abused, mistreated, and not knowing what's going to happen next. Here you have the freedom to move around without fear, the freedom to make your own decisions about what's right and wrong for you. You learn how to be your own person. And it helps to be around other women who've been abused. You know you're not alone.
Hilda is my counselor and I can talk to her whenever I need to. And we have ladies who stay overnight in the house and we can talk to them. It's like round-the-clock counseling, which is good, because you don't know how you're going to feel from one day to the next. Sometimes you're depressed. Sometimes you feel all right. Sometimes you're frustrated. You go through so many moods, but there is always somebody here to help you.
Nobody is happy leaving their home. But we feel safer. My girls are not waiting to see if I'm going to get beat up. They're not scared for me anymore. They just wonder where we're going to end up. But at least they know that everything is okay, that the fighting and abuse is gone from their lives.
We live on the ground floor of the house. My daughters and I share a large room with six beds, and there's a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen that we can use. We all do our own cooking, take care of our own kids, wash our own clothes, and do our own chores. You start to realize you can hold your own. You can actually shop and go to school and function without this abusive person in your life.
When you're being abused, sometimes you think this is just the life you're supposed to have. The counselors here help you realize life can be better for you, that you can be somebody and do something worthwhile with your life. When you leave a place like this, you emerge as a new you. A very reliable, independent you. A person that can stand up on her own and is strong enough to face whatever comes, not weak and defenseless and confused anymore.