My name is Mari
A couple months ago I was able to escape from my house and come to the shelter where you can find me today. I suffered verbal, physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Everything started immediately after marrying my husband.
I was 17 when we got together- when the abuse started. He changed drastically- as we were dating he was caring, loving, and very respectful. He liked to surprise me and paid attention to the little details. But then, so suddenly, he became jealous of everybody I saw, man or woman. When he sent me to the store, I had to be sure to come back very quickly. When I returned, he would insult me and accuse me, demanding to know why it took me so long. Then he began beating me.
As soon as we were married I became pregnant, and even so, he beat me without caring whether he would hurt the baby. He beat me with his fists and he whipped me with electric cables. He broke broom handles over my back, my legs, my pregnant belly.
He had a lot of problems with alcohol, and with crystal meth, though I didn't realize this at the beginning. He worked driving a taxi and I had to accompany him on his route every day because of his jealousy. He kept me next to him all day long, for 12 hours, without anything to eat. He was afraid I would escape at any moment.
Because of the immense physical abuse that I endured, my baby, a boy, was born at only seven months into my pregnancy. This became another motive for accusations and beatings, as he told me that the baby could not possibly be his; he accused me of being a whore.
When my baby was two months old, my husband came home one night, drunk, stoned, and angry because he had fought with a friend. For no other reason he began to beat me severely. He took off the dog's chain and used it to hang me by my neck from the rafters. I lost consciousness and woke up on the floor many hours later.
When I opened my eyes, he dragged me to the bed and continued beating me. The baby was there next to us and wouldn't stop crying, so my husband began punching him in the face until he was completely black and blue. As I struggled to get my baby away from him, he threw me hard against a dresser and I hit my back. Suddenly, I could not move, I had lost all strength in my legs. Even so, he continued beating me until he was exhausted and satisfied.
That was just one of the many beatings he gave me. Afterwords, on his knees, he would ask for forgiveness and promise me that he would never do it again. But he would do it, again and again, over the next two years. I was terrified to attempt to escape, because he never left us alone. It was very rare for him to leave me at home, and when he did, he always took the baby, knowing I could never leave without my child.
Finally, one day, as he was preparing to torture me again, I left running from the house. Without any idea where I would go, I just went out into the street running as fast as I could. I knew he would follow me and so I thought that as soon as I saw the first open door, I would go in and beg for help. Without realizing it, the open door I found was a neighborhood DIF office [a government office for child family welfare services]. There, they called the police to help me to try to get my son back. But by the time we got to the house, he had taken my son along with all of our documents and important papers. He wouldn't have many places to go. My husband had just lost his taxi, because he hadn't been making payments. (As time had moved along, he spent more and more days abusing and torturing me at home than out working.) I suggested that they look for him at his brother's house. And there they found him and got my son for me.
The day I escaped was the 23rd of November, 2010, my son's second birthday. Without planning to, I escaped from my house. By the grace of God, I was brought here, to Deborah's House.
My son was anemic because of the poor diet we had. I couldn't provide for him, as I was not allowed to have any money of my own. I had to wait for my husband to buy food which he never did. I begged for milk for the baby and he would say that that's what I was for. He wouldn't even let me change the baby's diapers because they cost too much.
I never had any control over my own body, not even birth control. So, secretly, when my first child was born, I asked the doctor to put in an IUD. I didn't want to get pregnant again because I knew that another child would suffer just as my first baby was suffering. But this also led to new problems. As I wasn't getting pregnant again, he began to feel that he wasn't capable of being a father, and therefore the first baby wasn't his. Once, as he sexually abused me so badly I suffered a severe hemorrhage and by some miracle, he agreed to take me to a doctor. To avoid more conflict, I asked them to remove the IUD. Soon after, I was pregnant once again.
But now, we are in a whole new world. Today, as I write this, I am six months pregnant. In Deborah's House, they took me to my first ultrasound, something that I hadn't even known existed before. I know that I'm going to have a precious baby girl; the great difference is that this child will be born in a place filled with love, care and attention. I give thanks to God because there exist places like this, where they tend to all my needs, psychologically, spiritually and physically. They've give me legal help to protect my rights and to seek justice for what is been done to us. They're helping me to formally register my first baby whom I have given a new name, “Moises Ernesto”. They are helping me to have contact once again with my family in Veracruz, most importantly, my mother. They're helping me with the birth of my second child, whom I am calling “Adalia Michelle” in honor of a most excellent woman. Being at Deborah's House is wonderful because I'm surrounded by people, who without even knowing me, have given my child and me the best of their love and attention. Everything I own in this world they have given me here, from food and clothing, to the greatest of my emotions. My son smiles now, which he had never, ever, done before. So do I!
We have no worries, much less mistreatment or abuse, and we joyously and anxiously await the birth of Moises' sister. When the right time comes, Deborah's House is going to help me return to my family.
Blessed be God and blessed are those who make it possible for places like this to exist.
Here we have learned so many new things. For instance, I've learned to knit hats and sew my own clothing. We are even learning English. Most importantly, we are studying the Bible to learn about God and Jesus Christ and his wonderful teachings. We are learning to love God and to love ourselves as we discover how to enjoy our qualities and abilities as women.
My bad experiences were horrendous, but I'm sure that in this shelter my good experiences will be far greater still. As time passes on, little by little, instead of fear in my mind and in my heart, there will only be immense happiness.
I could spend a lot of time sharing what my husband did to me but I would rather spend my time enjoying my son and my pregnancy. The little that I shared looks like it comes straight out of some soap opera. Perhaps it is hard for you understand the fear which kept me imprisoned for so long, and which forced me to tolerate so much. Yet it was that same fear though which sent me running into the street that 23rd of November, a day I will never forget.
Perhaps you will judge me for staying so long. Perhaps you will try to understand me. However, the only thing that I ask of you is that you “Corran La Voz!”, let your voice run! Please, shout it out! Let all others who are suffering what I suffered know that there are places like this beautiful shelter! Truly, I say that this house, aside from being a normal building of block and mortar, is a house which breathes the warmth of home.
When I arrive back home with my family in Veracruz, I want to put into practice all that which Deborah's House has taught me. Most importantly - to live well with my children and my mother. I cannot turn back time but I can begin to live again a life truly happy in the company of my God and my family. How wonderful it is that I begin this life here and now with my new family at Deborah's House.