My Story: Chapter One

The Time I Stopped the Rain

This is how my story begins


I was running from my past with a truck full of kids, the rain poured down obstructing my view of the road in front of me. Desperately trying to find my way while the calm voice of google maps routed me farther and farther from my wrong turn. I began to grow worried I would ever get myself out of this mess. The children were quiet as the giant SUV hummed along, a tank full of gas to keep some worry at bay.

Maybe getting my first license at the ripe old age of 45 was the wrong thing to do. How could a person get so lost so consistently even while using GPS? The rain came down even harder trying to show me how foolish I was.

The police told me they couldn’t protect me and my husband would be especially angry after being served with a temporary order of protection. One officer was on the phone looking for space for us in a domestic violence shelter as I explained to the other that we could stay with friends for a night or two. I was urged to leave town since he knew where my friends lived.

With no idea where we were going we packed up clothes for a few days, toys, blankets, some food and loaded up the back of the truck.

I was tired and weary, half in a daze. We had slept in a hotel room for the last two nights. Five kids and me in two beds. We had grabbed pillows, clothes, and favorite toys as the police officers had stood watch, one outside the front door, one in the front hall. I had started packing in the early hours unable to sleep, the fear of how he would react thick on my mind. I knew it was coming. I knew I was being told to leave. God was guiding me through friends, the domestic violence hotline, and the judge who granted the temporary order of protection late on a Friday night.

It had been a long year of alcohol abuse. Yelling, broken door, holes in the wall, nights wondering if he would make it home or die in an accident. Hidden bottles of whiskey, vodka in the garage. Hands around my neck.

Lies, cheating, too many clues to ignore, and still I held onto the dream that my marriage could be saved. That he didn’t already have someone else to replace me. I was in denial that I had been abused emotionally and physically. Controlled financially, socially, never in public without him. Afraid to walk around the block alone.

“This rain needs to stop! God, please stop the rain.” I called out in desperation.

Three seconds later the rain went from torrential to barely sprinkling.

“Did you see that? Did you hear what I said?” I asked my co-pilot, the other children filling the rows behind us. My daughter looked at me, wonder in her eyes.

I kept driving, looking for a place to turn around, and suddenly before me was a flooded-out road with no roadblock to warn me. I would have barreled right into it and been stranded in the middle of nowhere, far from home and the place I was running to for shelter.

As I thought about what had just happened with the rain I longed to tell him about it. I replayed it in my mind and thought of the words I would use to describe the rain stopping. Maybe I would call him. Then I realized I was running away from him and might not ever speak to him again, at least not for a long time.

The last year of our marriage had been spent facing my fears, learning to drive, getting my license. I would not have been able to take the driving test without the vehicle a neighborhood friend of a friend gave to us and my son repaired while he was visiting. Before that, we only had one vehicle which my husband used daily to commute.

He was shocked that I was driving and shopping and spending money. It angered him. I spent too much on food. For the first time in our marriage, I didn’t have to ask permission to buy socks, clothes for the kids, little luxuries I had never asked for before. I had gotten a taste of freedom. Some confidence came back to my eyes. He couldn’t keep me from standing up straighter, from growing towards the light and freedom.

I put money aside week by week, secretly, so I would have an emergency fund if worse came to worst. Now the worst had come. It was just beginning and I had a little money to survive on.

We had spent the last two nights in a hotel under an alias in case he came looking for us. New last name Smith. The children called each other by I. Smith, A. Smith, S. Smith for amusement. They didn’t know how bad it had gotten. I had hidden all the trouble so well. To them, we were just on a fun adventure. They had never been away from home without dad.

I turned around and found the road GPS was guiding me to. About 30 minutes later we pulled up in front of a building. There was no street number to be seen. A tall fence and gate topped by barbed wire was before us. The gate opened as I spoke to the woman on the phone I had been in contact with for the last three days.

She had called me back after I called the domestic violence hotline seeking shelter. I only knew her first name. She had directed me to a city miles away from home. Somewhere I had only passed through once. To a hotel that had been paid for so we could make it through the weekend. I was instructed to call her upon check out so she could give me the address to our next destination. Our shelter from the storm.

We pulled into the parking lot and unloaded from the truck. Women came out the front door to greet us and walk us inside through coded doors. We were shown to our room and given time to settle in and rest. Then there was a quick tour of the shower room, kitchen, living room, and dining room. So many people to meet. Tears of gratitude for a safe place to stay at no cost. Food to feed the children. A secure fence around us to keep the world and danger out. I was safe. I could rest. I could heal.

I didn’t know it at the time but my new life had begun. For better or worse there was no turning back now. I would not be a statistic. I would be one of the rare women to leave her abuser on the first try. I knew it had to be this time or not at all. I only had the strength for one try and I was putting everything in me into that one and only try.

This is how my story begins.



Julia Freeman, Trauma Recovery Coach in training

I believe survivors of narcissistic abuse and domestic violence deserve to live in freedom and peace.