After more than 20 years in an abusive marriage, Valerie had hoped her pain and troubles were behind her. Unfortunately, violence would come back into her life with a vengeance.
After seeing her boyfriend with another woman, an altercation broke out one night. Valerie’s boyfriend, along with his friends and sisters, beat her nearly to death. “They left me thrown by the railroad tracks,” Valerie said, in tears. “My boyfriend rode in the ambulance with me. He took my clothes and my money.”
Valerie was in a coma for three months and suffered brain damage. “They beat me so bad in the head that I forget things. I can’t remember everything. But I’m better now than I was. And I never forgot who my family was. My mom says God wasn’t ready for me. If he was, he would’ve taken me.”
As a result of her injuries, Valerie can’t work. “That was really hard for me because I was a very hard worker,” said Valerie, who was employed by Raytheon for 18 years. “I was lonely and bored and was just drinking.”
Valerie grew up in Oxnard and married at 17. Her husband never worked, and had two young children who Valerie raised. “Finally I just walked out and never went back,” Valerie said. “I didn’t have a tough time with it—it was a big weight off my shoulders—because, honestly, he never did anything for me, just abused me. He used to say, ‘Nobody is going to want you. You’re dumb.’ But I don’t need anybody. I have the Lord. He’ll protect me.
“To this day, I don’t love him, I don’t miss him—he hurt me so much. I can’t even imagine talking to him. I know I should forgive him, and I do forgive, but I won’t ever forget. I just want the Lord to come and wash it away from me.”
After some time away, Valerie returned to Oxnard in October. “I thought I would stay with my sister, but I couldn’t. I had nowhere to live. I was just out, wandering the streets, drinking, sleeping on the porch or on sidewalks. After a few days, thank God, they let me stay here.”
Three months into the program, Valerie is soaking up everything she can at the Lighthouse. She does vocational training in the afternoons, taking donations to the thrift store. She serves dinner in the evenings. After she graduates, she hopes to move into transitional housing.
“I love myself today because I never did,” Valerie said. “I was abused by the man I was married to for so long. I didn’t like myself. I tried to hurt myself. I couldn’t have any friends because he was in control. God is slowly but surely wiping the hurt away. ”