Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New York was different than I had expected. I had been out of state before but this was different. Just the city atmosphere even startled me a bit. We were left downtown. Funny part was our family didn't even know we were coming. We didn't talk to them at the safehouse at all. They just bought tickets and sent us across the country. Upon arrival we called my grandparents to come pick us up. It was big. EVERYTHING was so big compared to what I was used to; In Kentucky there were no skyscrapers, no office buildings only businesses and homes. At one point an old home improvement store was re-purposed as a childcare facility. We simply didn't BUILD things. It costed too much in the mountain town we lived in. Walmart even turned us down to build a location and that's saying A LOT.

We got to the house and my mother had to wait for paperwork and clearance from the school-board to enroll me. I was home-schooled for what seemed like MONTHS and I hated it. I was so much further along than my classmates when I re-entered school, to this day I'm not sure if it was due to the homeschooling or because curriculum in Kentucky was so strict in order to keep kids OUT OF TROUBLE. Good news is I can read roman numerals lol. I lived within two miles of the school so I had to walk. I remember it was terrible. Remember that scene from A Christmas Story; The one where the boy falls over and can't get up because his winter clothes weighed so much, it actually happened to me once I remember I had to take off my jacket to get back on my feet. In New York you have to APPLY to schools, when you GRADUATE from elementary school you put in applications much like you would a college. I remember all of my friends went to a school named Athena and they were separated from me when I went to Apollo. Apollo was on the other side of the city. It was COVERED with guard patrol EVERYWHERE. It was a small but very upright school. There had to be at LEAST 5 floors. They had an Administration on the top floor followed by the 6th,7th,8th grade floors. The lower floors contained the infirmary, cafe, locker rooms, dance hall, auditorium and all other extracurricular rooms. The curriculum was intense, maybe that's the reasoning in being split from my friends. All of my friends and neighbors near the house attended the other school and I was jealous of all the free time they had to themselves; while I sat at home studying for exams, doing HOURS of homework to prepare for the next class. Even the DAY1 DAY2 schedule didn't help. In fact, I ended up taking more classes than I knew what to do with. I ended up taking 18 classes a week. 9 a day and lunch of course. I didn't know that there were so many schools available in New York versus Kentucky. In Kentucky there were NO choices. There was one school building per so many grades. In fact ALL schools released at the same time and rode the schoolbus together. It was crazy in New York I had to take the city bus to get to school. It was the first time that I couldn't WALK anywhere I needed, considering the town I lived in contained about 5 miles of area TOPS.

The scariest part of everything was that we found out that our paperwork from the safehouse meant NOTHING. The safehouse in Kentucky rushed the process so much so that we were almost immediately moved into ANOTHER safehouse to protect us and get the necessary paperwork done. Unfortunately that would have caused me to transfer schools and start ALL over again. With everything going on Namechange was on the agenda as well. There were quite a few variations thrown around. To this day I have to think about the name in the system when I go to the doctors. I could have been anything from my grandfathers name (deeming me as ferrari) or a much less known name as (crociata.) THAT'S right I'm not hiding anymore. I am an adult and though I'm scared of a lot of things, I am not afraid of what I have been through. It didn't kill me... so I guess I won

Monday, June 3, 2013

Luckily for us, My mother and I had family across the country. When we were approached by the safehouse representatives saying that we posed a threat to ourselves and the others placed in the safehouse and they had to move us AS FAR AS POSSIBLE. The first place we were sent was Rochester, New York. We shared the basement in my grandmothers 3 bed, 2.5 bath house. The basement was quite spacious actually, spanning the entire length of the house. It was split into a makeshift bedroom/entertainment area a Large walk-in closet, a bar area, wood shop, sewing room, study and laundry room.

So that was it. The safehouse bought our greyhound tickets and drove us about 3 hours away to a large city, handed us our tickets and things and took off on us. So much for safety, looks like they were concerned with their own. Seeing as we had HOURS before our first bus took off and only had my mothers last minimum wage check and the money I had saved from school functions. Every friday the school would do half a day of classes and the remainder they would open up a candy cart, selling candy, popcorn and soda while playing a movie marathon. For months before we had left my mother would tell me "soon the fighting will stop, soon it will get better, you can ALWAYS replace things, never people." So I sat in class and watched the movies every friday, no soda, no candy, no popcorn. Just sitting for months. I saved hundreds. Actually more than my mom had saved. Then again, I had no bills to pay. We walked to a burgerking, I think it was. Maybe a Subway restaurant. It was somewhat close to where we were left at the station. Too scared to wander off in a town we didn't know. In a time before everyone had a cell phone or a gps. Not to mention, we were being "securely moved" (if that's what you would call leaving two small women on the side of the road in a large city with not even a map.) I remember getting out of the minivan that day and they handed us our protective order and our tickets.

Later, we would find out that our protective order, temporary custody, and other assorted paperwork didn't mean a thing legally. We get on the first bus and off we go, finally safe. Over night it got so cold that we began to dig through our carry on and put on everything we could find. Layers helped, especially AFTER the bus broke down. That was fun lol. We got to our layover in Dayton, Ohio and we saw something never seen in a small town before. First, as we tried to board my mother was dragged down by the weight of backpacks and a duffelbag. No one would help her up and I had to try, with all the extra weight on my 8 year old limbs, I couldn't manage. She was forced to sit everything down and reorganize afterwords. There was a group of quakers in line behind us, We had thought they were known for friendliness (I guess that's really just the guy on the oats can.) The man in the bus station refused to take the tickets out of the envelope, regardless of seeing both my mother and I struggling to stand upright, let alone dig through paperwork. It was the time of Anthrax but a 4'10 woman and her 8 year old daughter are NOT your threat buddy.

We finally boarded and it was off to New York at last.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Being the daughter of a clergyman in the local church, we lived a very simple life I suppose... I never went to the dentist. Only went to the doctor's twice as long as I lived in Kentucky. I never even got my hair cut, only trims in the kitchen from my mother. I remember once, when I was 5 I thought it was a great idea to cut it myself to rebel... BIG TROUBLE.

We were placed into a safehouse in a big city, which was a BIG change from such a small town where everyone knows everyone AND their business.When everyone in your town is related to you or one of your siblings it's TOO MUCH!

The safehouse was an odd place. It had four floors. There was the basement which served as a play area for children. The main floor which served as the office and counseling areas. They brought women in to counsel and do all of the mandatory paperwork. The women would register children in school, do shopping trips for groceries, school supplies and any other things that we would need. They also did legal paperwork such as affidavits , protective orders, custody paperwork, etc. The 2nd floor was used as kitchen, storage and living area while the final floor was used for bedrooms. These houses operate on the chore system, adults and children alike would be assigned chores depending on age and

The house altogether was a fairly large house, but when it came to bedrooms it seemed like there weren't very many for the amount of women and children who desperately need this service. In fact, looking back on  it; had the counselor, hired for my parent's marriage counseling, not thought my life in danger, My mother and I would have likely been turned away. We were probably only accepted because we were submitted by the state.

There aren't that many safehouses in general, there aren't many charities that donate to them and there aren't many rooms in them either. There were 4 to 5 bedrooms each with 1 nightstand, 1 dresser, a small closet and two sets of bunk beds. There were no colors on the wall, there were no decorations, no alarm clocks.

This may sound to the average reader as something that is A LOT of space for families needing help. I urge you to think again. Chew on this bit of information for a minute, Families placed in safehouses generally stay there for 6 months or longer. They are relocated, whether its across the state... or the country; Away from their families to start a new life. These women do not have their own vehicles when they move into these safehouses, they are not that fortunate. They need to get a new job, new place to live, they often have to file paperwork with the courts for custody all while maintaining their secured location. This process takes a long time. Just because you managed to get placed in a location does not mean that it will be your new home. This  process is often repeated, moving families at the drop of a hat whenever there is the slightest threat to someone learning their location.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Getting there:

Based off of his "double life." I'm fairly certain most of you have gathered that my father had one since both my mother and I ended up in a safe house. From the outside looking in, My dad was certifiably nuts. A bigomist lifestyle he led (completly unknown to my mother) and once divorced from his first wife he cheated on my mom every chance he got. I wonder how many siblings I have that I don't know about lol. Anyway, due to my father's cheating, he and my mother attended marriage counseling; upon seeing the controlling behaviors of my father, the counselor told my mother that I HAD to be out of the house by the end of the month and if she chose, my mother could accompany me, but me leaving was guaranteed.

I remember packing, looking back it seems funny. My mom was running around the house frantically and damned if she gave him expensive items. She kept walking around and remembering things that costed a lot for the time and kept saying "hey, yeah, I paid for that too." We had something crazy like five or six backpacks and a duffelbag of things to start our life over. I remember the policeman telling us that it would not fit and my determined and italian mother said "we will make it fit, we will hold it on our laps." We must've been in those police cars for at least three and a half hours. It was dark outside and the policeman who picked us up from our house... I knew him. I knew I could trust him, Until he pulled over alongside of the road and said "This is as far as I go," which terrified me. This must've happened with about four cop cars before we reached our destination.

Before you ask like I've been many times. NO, even if you placed me in the city I could NOT find my way back to it.

Let me know what sort of details you guys would like to know about and I'll be sure to include them. I'll try to be as honest as possible.
Ever since I was a small child I've had an interest in reading, writing, comprehension... but NEVER math. UGH. I was that small girl who had lived out far too much for her age and everyone attributed my behaviors as an "old soul." Bottom line is I have always had an "Interesting, nontraditional lifestyle..." I guess that's how the sheltered say they feel sorry for my childhood... or lack thereof. I'm frequently told I should write a book.  However, I am interested in reading your honest reactions to some of these situations I've been through. 

Lets start with my dad. The man you're supposed to look up to, the one that is supposed to show their daughter how the love of their life should treat them. Most importantly, the one man who is supposed to be there to threaten any man who hurts his angel. Looking back, I never had this... and maybe that's why I have had my share of bad relationships; Not that everyone hasn't.

My life has been molded in a way that most haven't. As a child I was placed in a women's center and relocated. I'm here to tell the story of women's shelters and the brave women who have been blessed enough to move forward with their lives. I encourage other survivors to comment and share your stories as well.

To be honest, the vast majority of people have the WRONG perception of these "Safe Houses." For lack of better words they're like a counselors office meets bed and breakfast. These safe houses can be anywhere, and that's the beauty of it, YOU'LL NEVER KNOW if the house down the road is helping rebuild women's lives.

Problem is... These institutions are few and far between. Not only in the region that I lived when placed in one, but all over the country. See... my dad was a pastor... preacher...deacon; he was head of church in this little town. 2,000 people in the county. My family built the church, and despite being called Church of Christ there was something terribly unholy about it.

In order to speak to anyone in the clergy, you had to be a male... or speak through a male figure in your family for any sort of guidance. Of course, the only logical thing to do with clergymen's children and wives were to completely cut them out of religion. We basically had to figure it out for ourselves. Survival of the fittest huh? lol

My dad did a LOT of things that were frowned upon by all of the faiths I've grown up to know; Based off of my feelings of simply not belonging in the church I grew up in. After relocation I began to search myself to know ME better.Unfortunately, this type of SOUL Searching is something most often done by high school gradutes (nearly 1st year college kids) only problem is I was 8 and doing this. I looked into the things I liked as far as religion, style, literature etc.