It was an unusually hot night in the summer of 2002 when Ana* walked through the door to find her husband, Juan*, in a drunken rage because Ana hadn’t left him a cooked dinner before she went to work at 7 a.m. He had no job and refused to help with any of the household chores. Lately, he had become more and more aggressive, taking out his frustrations on her. He had a lot of time on his hands. He began trying to control her life, questioning her every time she left the house for any reason. In response to his repeated requests, she lent him money and never received a penny back. A few weeks later she found out she was pregnant.
One day, Ana overheard a conversation between Juan and another woman. When Ana confronted him, he became violent and beat her up so badly that she ended up in the hospital. Several months later, Ana gave birth to a baby girl she named Monica.
Ana subsequently discovered that while Juan was contributing nothing financially to her or to caring for Monica, he was sending money to a previous girlfriend in Puerto Rico. Later, she discovered that he was in frequent communication with yet another woman. When she confronted him about this, he became so violent that she had to call 911. The police arrived, but Ana was so afraid for her life and for her baby daughter that she didn’t press charges against Juan.
She became pregnant again, but her life continued to be a roller coaster. At times Juan said that he loved her; other times he threatened to kill her.
The incidents involving abuse never seemed to stop. It so happened that Ana and Juan were working in the same place. On one occasion, near the end of the day, Ana entered a room to find Juan hugging another coworker. In the car, on the way home, Ana confronted him. He went wild, punching her in the face and pulling her hair, even while trying to drive. Ana was unable to do anything until Juan stopped at a red light. Then, out of fear for her life, she got out and ran for help.
Ana decided she had had enough. She took Monica and all her important documents and went to a shelter, pregnant with the second child. Juan kept calling her. The experience at the shelter was very challenging. With her poor English, Ana could not communicate properly with either the house manager or the other residents. Consequently, her simple needs were not met. She and Monica were crowded into a small room with another family who seemed to despise her. She felt entirely out of place.
Eventually, Ana was able to find several odd jobs, including one cleaning hotel rooms. With the help of her sister, she was able to afford the rent of a small house while also providing for her two children. For the time being, their living situation is stable. Ana is an active member of the Fenix Group. Her wish is to share her story and help women like her who are suffering from domestic violence.
*Although this story reflects a true story, the names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.