Home should be the place where we feel safest. That is why it can be shocking to hear stories from our children about just how unsafe their homes can be. It is heartbreaking to hear a young person tell me that they once dreaded going home. Amber was one of those children.
Amber grew up as an only child being raised by her mother. Her father had never been in the picture, and Amber sometimes worried that her mom was lonely. That’s why she was excited when she met her mother’s new boyfriend. Whenever he came over, he brought candy for Amber and flowers for her mother. Amber had never seen her mom so happy. After just a few months, Amber and her mother moved into his house. That’s when things started to change.
Once they lived together, it seemed that everything Amber’s mother did made her boyfriend upset. If her mother forgot to get something at the store, he would scream at her and call her terrible names, and then make her return to the store.
One night, Amber’s mother came home after running errands in her boyfriend’s car. She told him that she had been rear-ended by another car while driving, and there was now a small dent in the bumper. Her boyfriend became enraged as he cursed and screamed at her. Then, he struck Amber’s mother so hard that she fell; all while Amber was watching.
Though he promised Amber and her mother it would never happen again, it did. The screaming, name-calling and hitting became routine. Amber wished she and her mother could go back to their old apartment – just the two of them, where she felt safe. Seeking an escape during these attacks, Amber would go into the bathroom and lock the
door. She was often too afraid to leave the bathroom, even sleeping there while waiting for her mother and her mother’s boyfriend to stop fighting. Sometimes she was too afraid to sleep at all, never knowing what would happen next.