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 told her our story of the mental and physical abuse. She helped me call social services and domestic violence shelters and Bradley Angle was the first on the list.

When we arrived at Bradley Angle’s emergency shelter 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 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 helped him learn new ways to deal with his anger without hurting himself or others and 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. 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. 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!