The trauma and violence survivors face every day is often the result of generations of abuse. For some, the cycle feels as inevitable as a genetic trait.
Think about it. Is there one feature or birthmark that runs in your family? Maybe it’s a cowlick, or ears that stick out.
In my family, it’s our jawlines. You can see it in my daughter, in me, in my brother and my mother and grandmother. When my daughter complains about it, I tell her to get in line behind all of us!
For young Michelle*, violence was the unfortunate trait passed down to her through the generations. It felt as inevitable as her hairline or the shape of her nose.
Generations of abuse
Michelle first learned violence from the woman she thought was her mother. She discovered when she was seven that this woman was actually her aunt. On Michelle’s second birthday, her father murdered her biological mother.
That story wasn’t hard for Michelle to believe because abuse was everywhere around her. Her uncle beat her aunt. Her aunt savagely abused Michelle and her brother Isaac*. All the while, Michelle’s aunt was encouraging her own children to look down on and abuse the brother and sister.
Michelle grew up believing that’s how some families are. But your support of SAFE can help change stories like hers.
Michelle remembers one long night spent locked in a pick-up truck’s toolbox. And another extended period trapped with dogs she described as “big” and “mean.”
Then one day, she and Isaac came home from school to a locked door and empty house. They sat on the porch and waited. When their uncle came home from work, they discovered their aunt had left with her children.
And so, at the age of 11, having experienced nothing but violence and contempt at home, Michelle entered foster care.
It didn’t work out well. Michelle attended schools in at least 10 different districts in the following years.
Michelle felt lost in the system. But thanks to the support of our generous donors, help was available.
Eventually, Michelle fell into an abusive relationship. At 17, when she was four months pregnant, her boyfriend ran her over with his car.
Her leg was broken, but the baby was miraculously unhurt.
SAFE offers a way out
That’s what led Michelle to live at SAFE’s Teen Parent Program. And – thanks to donors who are eager to end the generations of abuse affecting so many of our clients – that’s when things started looking up.
“I realized it’s not where I’ve been, it’s where I’m going.” – Michelle, survivor
Michelle discovered something different at SAFE: people and programs that really helped. She attended birthing and parenting classes. For the first time, she found caring people who showed her kindness.
With SAFE’s help, Michelle earned her diploma and started college. Once her baby, Carla*, was born, she got help with child care, which enabled her to find a good job and save money.
Michelle describes her time at SAFE as “a blessing.” Thanks to her hard work, she tore up the deep roots of violence that were her inheritance.
Unfortunately, generations of abuse and violence run in most of the families we serve at SAFE. Right now, there are eight other mothers or soon-to-be mothers in our Teen Parent Program.
Can you help other young moms like Michelle overcome violence and rewrite their families’ stories? Please make a gift to SAFE today.
* Name changed to protect clients’ identities.