|Her Mom was always trying to hide the broken bones and bruises from the kids. You see, Kristina’s Father was an abuser who wore down his wife emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Kristina’s Mother was a victim of emotional abuse growing up with her mother and stepfather and foster homes. “I feel it is a vicious cycle from both sides in my mother’s case, she already had self-esteem issues then she met this man and he treated her so good and then the abuse started and she stayed because she did not know how to provide for us,” said Kristina. She remembers a time when her Father became enraged after her Mother asked him in front of his friends to turn down his music because the kids were trying to sleep. He was embarrassed and did not want to appear weak in front of his friends, so he pulled his gun out and put it to her head.
Kristina remembers fleeing with her Mother on several occasions while her Father was at work, but always returning. Her Mother was afraid; she didn’t know how she would provide for herself and her children alone. The abuse was intensified by her Father’s heavy drinking.
Kristina has a recurring dream of her Father hitting her Mother on the head with a frying pan because he didn’t find dinner to be agreeable. “The dream I have is one that my mom still says never happened, but I think it’s a part of the traumatic effects it had on me as a child,” said Kristina. The abuse continued for many years, until one day her parents finally realized how damaging this relationship was and made the mutual decision to file for divorce. After the divorce, Kristina’s Father had hit rock bottom. But instead of continuing on his self-destructive path, he sought help. He started attending counseling and therapy sessions through his employer. He learned how to manage his anger, how to manage his addiction with alcohol, and he learned what it took to make a successful relationship.
Unfortunately, for many batterers, “hitting bottom” means being arrested. Without intervention, the cycle of violence continues. The turning point for Kristina’s father was the realization that his marriage was headed for divorce and that others' marriages would be ruined as well. He reached out for help and found it. Kristina’s Father found the support he needed to break the cycle of violence before it was too late.
Today, Kristina lives a happy and healthy life with her husband and children - but she knows her circumstances could have ended disastrously. She volunteers her time and works with local domestic violence shelters, like The Julian Center. “Volunteering is like my therapy.”
She wants women to know that they can leave and get help with centers like The Julian Center. It is never too late. She stresses the importance of counseling, especially for children. Kristina’s situation is unique in that her Father took measures to correct his behavior, and the family was able to effectively stop the cycle. “I vowed NOT to repeat the cycle and have been able to surpass this horrible situation for a child and grow as an adult to be a great member of society.”
Two million injuries and 1,300 deaths are caused each year as a result of domestic violence. For the 5,700 women and children we serve each year, The Julian Center serves as their first step to escape the violence, start the healing, and establish new lives. Survivors are offered access to Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing, Permanent Housing, Counseling and Therapy, Children’s Programming, Self-Sufficiency Programming, and so much more.
Pray the day will come when the need for such services no longer exists.
Until that day, The Julian Center will be here.