The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Life after domestic abuse involves courage, change

In 2004, the Alabama court system gave Angela Taylor 35 days to change her life.

“I spent days locked in my home,” she said. “A Lifetime movie has nothing on me.”

Taylor was the victim of domestic abuse, and it was obvious enough that it was brought to the court‘s attention, and a judge gave the NW student the short time period to escape from someone she was then financially and emotionally dependent upon.
“I could change the obvious things, the house and the job. I had done it at least six or seven times before,” Taylor said. “It is never enough. I had to change the mental things, and I couldn’t, and I ended up going back to him.”

When Taylor failed to meet the court’s deadline, her two children were taken away from their abusive stepfather and returned to Angela’s first husband, their biological father.

“Afterward, I made up an almost fake reality where they would come back,” she said. “The abuse continued, and it was physical, mental and verbal. I just closed the door and fell into a depression.”

Taylor remained this way before a visit from her father changed everything.

“After the kids were taken, he came to check on me. I hadn’t washed my hair in days, and I’m sure there were bruises all over me,” she said. “I was in denial. And before he entered through the door that day, he actually turned around and walked out. He had never done that before. I didn’t immediately leave, and he never returned. I finally left and never went back.”

The day she left, Taylor said her father asked her if she could leave everything behind and get as far away as possible. When she said yes, he picked up the phone to make arrangements.

Not long after, Taylor visited the Sunshine Shelter in Montgomery, Ala., a shelter that caters only to women and uses a series of questionnaires and therapy work to aid in their recovery.

“I was so bad off that the advisor pointed out that I never looked up when I spoke and apologized for everything,” Taylor said. “She put that mirror in my face, and, eventually, I woke up.”

Taylor now recognizes her success at the Sunshine Shelter as being the first time anyone helped her both physically in getting away from the danger and mentally in dealing with the trauma that was the aftermath.

“This is a sickness almost like substance abuse. The difference is that there is no 12-step system for victims of domestic violence,” Taylor said. “We all recognize when someone has an addiction and needs help, but everyone’s first response when dealing with domestic violence is, ‘Why don’t you just leave?’”

Abuse involves a number of self-esteem and guilt issues, and it is never just a matter of leaving, Taylor said.

“There is probably a reason you are in this relationship in the first place. The abuse becomes a normal part of your life, and you are addicted to it,” she said. “If the general public was more aware of this, then victims would be treated differently, and people would understand that when they ask someone to leave and never look back, they are asking for the impossible.”

In Tarrant County, many abuse victims go to SafeHaven, a multi-faceted organization that provides complimentary emergency shelter, transitional housing, counseling, children’s programming, support groups, legal advocacy and a 24-hour crisis hotline.

Annie Potasznik, communications coordinator for SafeHaven, said the shelter always takes proactive measures to educate people about domestic violence.

Potasznik said Tarrant County recorded 26 domestic violence-related deaths including two minors last year. Also, nationwide, 25 percent of adults have been in an abusive relationship, and roughly 2 million cases are reported each year, she said.

“SafeHaven’s mission is to end family violence through safety, support, prevention and social change,” Potasznik said. “To put it simply, women and children who seek shelter at either our Arlington or Fort Worth shelters don’t die.”

Now at TCC, Taylor has been fighting for custody of her children and rebuilding her life since 2007. She has been accepted into honors classes, approved for 19 hours a semester, excelled academically and was just chosen for an Outstanding Achievement Award.

One of Taylor’s first teachers on NW, Cecilia Sublette, said Taylor is an inspiration to others.
“She is able to focus on what needs to be done and then creates a plan of action for the solution, even given the bleakest of situations,” Sublette said. “Her positive attitude and determination to solve a problem — rather than simply allowing the problem to consume her —is what makes her a woman to be modeled.”

Taylor believes that her success is proof that anyone can succeed if they choose to do so.
“I am the first in my family to graduate from high school, and there are so many people that thought I could never do this, including myself,” she said. “I am an older student from an abusive lifestyle who wanted to better myself. If I can do this, so can you.”

Along with her newfound confidence and education, Taylor has regained something far more precious: her children.

Taylor said she petitioned the court and was given a series of requirements to meet. The process was ongoing, and it took more than four years before she could have them without supervised visitation.

Taylor has regained custody of her children and said she is looking forward to her new life.
“It’s been a long journey,” she said. “I’m going to let them finish out the school year, and then I’m bringing them home.”

Taylor will never get back the days she lost imprisoned inside her own home, but she uses her past as motivation in creating the life she has always wanted, a life she once thought she didn’t deserve.

“There is nothing in this world that can hold someone back when they decide to be the best that they can be,”she said.

For more information:
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call SafeHaven’s 24-hour hotline at 1-877-701-7233 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.

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