“When She Leaves, She’ll Leave With the Clothes on Her Back”: GBM Patron Working to Escape Abuse

Mandy Shunnarah, GBM Communications Specialist

Nancy, the patron whose story follows is Spanish-speaking, so the story is told through her friend, who was serving as her translator. Nancy’s friend asked to remain anonymous, so for purposes of the story, her name has been changed to Karen. 

Nancy looked to Karen and nodded for her to begin. It’s apparent that Karen and Nancy are good friends because Karen knows much about Nancy’s hardship. 

“It’s her and her five kids that need help. That’s her youngest,” said Karen, indicating the toddler on Nancy’s knee. “She’s a victim of abuse. She and her husband have been on again and off again for awhile now. She works, but he takes all her money and doesn’t leave her any to take care of the babies.” Upon hearing the word “babies,” Nancy held her child a little tighter. 

“She was about to be homeless, but she got another job and is going to be staying with a friend. When she leaves, she’ll leave with just the kids and the clothes on her back,” said Karen. “She can’t leave the kids with him. They’ve seen him abuse her.”

Karen has been working with Nancy to help her formulate a plan to escape her husband. But Karen can only do so much because she’s suffered five strokes and has a number of health problems. Although she is hardly able to walk, Karen is doing what she can to make sure Nancy’s future is brighter. Karen brought Nancy to GBM so she could get food to feed her family since her husband’s financial abuse is so extreme that he doesn’t leave money for food.

Karen met Nancy because she was a mutual friend of one of Karen’s roommates. Their mutual friend knew Nancy needed help, but wasn’t sure how to help her or what resources were available. That’s when Karen stepped in. 

“God sees everything you do, so if you help others, he’s more liable to help you when you need it. He wants you to help others,” said Karen. “Her husband has been abusing her almost the whole time they’ve been married. He really did a number on her when she was pregnant with their last child.” Karen glanced toward Nancy, who still held the child in her lap, her cheek pressed against the top of the child’s head. 

Nancy is seeking a better life, but her journey didn’t start here. “Before she was here she was living in rural Mexico washing clothes on rocks in the river. Women don’t have rights there—they’re the property of their fathers, then the property of their husbands,” Karen explained. “The women are like slaves.”

Nancy and Karen are both thankful for GBM’s food pantry because that will be one less thing that Nancy has to worry about as she escapes from her tyrannical husband.