“I didn’t think he would try to kill me. My little girl is going to see my die.” That was the moment that changed everything. Ashley knew getting out and getting safe was a matter of life and death for her daughter and her unborn child.
Ashley’s life wasn’t reminiscent of a fairy tale. It was closer to a cautionary tale of what can go wrong if you don’t make the right choices. Ashley had a history of drug use. The Department of Child Safety (DCS) was concerned about her daughter and had intervened. Ashley was working with a family preservation team to help develop a safe and healthy family environment.
“Ashley’s boyfriend wasn’t always physically abusive, it started when she got pregnant,” said Sara Lewis, domestic violence case manager. “At first it was sporadic, then it became daily and escalated in severity.”
When Ashley was attacked with a knife and stabbed by her boyfriend, she knew her life could go one of two ways. If she kept doing what she had always done, she could die. Or she could fight to overcome the choices she made, and those that were made for her and create a life she could be proud of, a life a security for herself and her children.
Finding a Safe Place
Ashley found safety at My Sisters’ Place, a confidential domestic violence shelter near Phoenix. She knew this was her opportunity to change her life.
She was determined to take advantage of all the support she found. She wanted to get a job so she could be independent and make a fresh start with her daughter. DCS was concerned for her safety and worried her ex-boyfriend would find her but Ashley was determined to create a new life.
Everyone who had been working with Ashley saw a change in her. They knew that this time she was serious. She worked with a counselor to deal with trauma and the family preservation team helped her with parenting skills. Ashley was consistent and continually met her goals.
Ashley’s team noticed a change in her daughter too. “When they first came to the shelter, the daughter was defiant, wouldn’t listen to her mom and would throw tantrums. With support, Ashley’s parenting skills improved. Now, she is taking time to get on child’s level and use positive parenting techniques,” said Lewis. This extra care results in fewer tantrums and better social skills.
“Ashley is very motivated. She looked for work, found a job, then housing, all while dealing with this trauma and taking care of her daughter,” said Lewis. Ashley still has a lot of work ahead of her but the progress she has made is inspiring to others.