On October 12, 2004, I became intimately acquainted with Bradley Angle. I left my boyfriend of four years on the 10th with two kids, a stroller, a diaper bag, and the clothes we were wearing. My 17-year-old son had fled to a teen shelter three days before and decided to stay there for a while, so it was me and an 11-year-old and a 3-year-old. We had nowhere to go, and I had no idea what to do next. I knew if I didn’t leave, someone was going to get hurt very badly.
My boyfriend had just ripped off the shed door outside because he was angry with my son for not writing “his sentences” for some infraction he said he did. He probably did do something, but he didn’t deserve 1,000 sentences saying, “Why I am so stupid.” So we ran away. We walked ten blocks to a bus and rode downtown to see if I could get us in a shelter. After much crying and begging, we finally got a room for the night at a homeless shelter. But they made it very clear we only had the one night.
The next morning, we went to my son’s counselor and camped in her office until she had an opening. We told her our story of the mental and physical abuse, and she helped me call social services and she called domestic violence shelters. Bradley Angle was the first on the list. After the first phone call, and waiting, they called back and said we had a place to go. One hurtle down. We had a place to sleep.
When we got to the meeting place, I saw a beautiful, very pregnant woman who smiled at us and told us everything would be all right and that we were in safe hands. She told us how to get to the house and left to meet us there. After arriving at the house, we were given our own room, clothes, and food, and told to relax for a while and I could fill out paperwork later. The funny thing is, how do you relax when the last year has been so traumatic that you had forgotten how to relax?
Everyone I met at the house was nice, patient, and very willing to help. My boys knew they were safe—so safe, they started to act out and let their feelings show. It is so hard to watch an 11-year-old boy throw furniture because he is so angry and hurt from all the stuff he has lived through. But the staff took him into the office and told him that it was all right to be hurt and angry, and they helped him learn new ways to deal with his anger without hurting himself or others. They taught me how to help my sons with their anger.
After six weeks in the emergency shelter, my advocate helped us into the transitional program, where we met more people willing to help us with our problems. They have taught me that it’s all right to be angry, sad, and even happy. The other day I told one of the staff ladies, “The best part about being here is that now when I’m walking on eggshells, it’s because I’ve broken an egg.”
I now have a safe place to vent without fear of reprisals. My children have a safe place to vent without fear of being beaten. And when my youngest son throws something at the older one for some reason, I have the tools to handle the situation without feeling the need to use drugs.
October 12, 2004, used to be a bad day in a long line of bad days, but now it’s the best day because I decided to change my life, and I found Bradley Angle to help me do it. I am so grateful to you all so very much. My 17-year- old is now in foster care and doing very well, my 11-year-old is looking forward to his 12th birthday being a happy day, and still learning to let his feelings out. My 3-year-old is becoming a preschooler who has no worries. They are all doing very well. Me, I’m in alcohol and drug treatment, and looking forward to court to get full custody of my children. Best of all I’m realizing that I am someone important, that I am beautiful, and that I can have anything in this world I want, if I work hard enough at it. I think that is the best thing Bradley Angle has given me—ME!
UPDATE: Years later, and I am still in my own apartment, and I have graduated treatment. I am in a ten-week intensive training to learn medical terminology and ethics so I can work in a medical office (at good pay with benefits). My oldest is doing well in an independent living program. The next boy is doing well in school, and is well on his way to believing he knows everything and I know nothing. My youngest is almost getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall, and his speech and developmental delays are getting much better. I am so proud of all of them, and of myself.
At least I don’t have to check “Divorced”
On a lifetime of official forms
But I remember the wedding ritual,
The party, the thank you notes.
The marriage failed within a year.
At least the cats can’t ask me
Why she doesn’t come home any more
But they follow me with puzzled eyes
And keep waiting by the door.
I can’t seem to provide them a stable home.
At least I have my own career,
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BRADLEY ANGLE•5432 N. Albina Ave.•Portland, OR 97217•503.232.1528