"One night, in front of my son, a man who was supposed to love me punched me several times and when I fell to the floor, kicked me in my side over and over enough times to break my ribs. I left the relationship and our home for the safety of myself and my son. We stayed with one friend than the next friend, sleeping on couches … our belongings in bags.
"I called several places for me and my son to have stability and begin rebuilding our lives. No one could take us because my son was over the age of 9. I was having door after door slammed in my face. It felt like I was being beaten up all over again.
"Each day I just went through the motions … I wasn’t sleeping or eating. I was constantly crying. My son worried about me, worried that I would be harmed again, worried from all my crying, worried about what would happen with us. He was not behaving like a child. He was behaving like an adult trying to protect and comfort me.
"A friend suggested I call TLC, saying, ‘They will help you.’ But, after so many rejections, I had given up. My friend persisted, and I finally called. The first thing I said was, ‘Do you accept boys over the age of nine?’ The lady answered, ‘Yes.’ I remember saying, ‘So my son can stay there with me?’ and she said, ‘Yes, of course!’
"[Once at TLC] we could begin to focus on healing, but I was still scared. My son was full of questions and both of us were trying to trust that everything would be okay. By the end of our first week, I was beginning to smile and laugh and Darien was starting to be a child again. We felt at peace and safe. The TLC staff did everything they could to make us feel welcome, secure, supported and loved … reaching out to meet our needs every way they could.
"I got to know other residents … people from all types of backgrounds, of all ages. Each one had overcome struggles and, just like the staff, they were pulling Darien and me into their community. I watched my son become himself again, enjoying evenings in the family room with other children. Younger children looked up to him … greeting him with hugs as he walked in the door. My son was smiling again. He was happy again. Darien, my fun loving son, was back.
"I’m not a victim. I’m not a statistic. I’m Chrystal, a woman―with a college education, a full time job and an amazing son―who has been blessed to live in an amazing community, with a strong loving support system in my corner, cheering me on.
"The staff at TLC supported my son and me in every way they possibly could and helped us rebuild our lives again. Since then we’ve moved into a beautiful two bedroom apartment. It’s in the city which is great for me for work and my son for school. We are located in a good neighborhood with stores conveniently near by. We are both very happy with our new home!
"We continue to look forward to what lies ahead ... but will never forget TLC, the staff, and all of the people in the community who help make it possible for TLC to do what they do. I don’t look back and see myself as a victim ... I just look back and thank God for TLC and think how fortunate we are …
"When we needed tender loving care, it was there, given to us by so many angels. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping us rebuild our lives again!"