The illness had taken its toll. Deborah’s mother was cracking and so was her family. After battling with schizophrenia, her parent’s marriage could no longer handle the strain, and they divorced. Her mother was institutionalized, her father took off, and the very young Deborah was sent to live with her grandparents. Instead of there being a rainbow at the end of the rain, however, there was a storm brewing, and she had found herself right in the middle of it with no shelter, no family, and no one to turn to for help. As a small child, there was nothing she could do but try to cope with her new life.
She blocked it out. She did her very best to try and disappear in her mind as her grandfather repeatedly molested her for years. Then, for some reason, he suddenly stopped. She tried to tell her grandmother what had been happening but in disbelief, she turned her away and sent her to a children’s home for troubled youth. In noticing Deborah’s obviously sweet nature, the director of the home was curious what she was doing there. “Are you sure this is where you want her to be? She doesn’t seem like she really belongs in this kind of environment,” the director had told her grandmother. But confident in her decision, she left Deborah behind and never looked back.
At age 14, Deborah was emancipated so that she could try for a better life on her own. She was an independent girl, despite her young age, and she felt she could take care of herself. She had a job, a place of her own, and after all, anything had to be better than what she had just been through. A beautiful teenage girl on the streets with no parental guidance was a recipe for disaster, and at age 15 and a half, she found herself in trouble. She was pregnant.
She married the baby’s father, but after he had an affair, it ended in divorce. Young and alone with a baby to care for, Deborah did her best to keep everything together while mourning the loss of her husband. Eventually, she was able to move forward with her life, and she started dating again. Her new boyfriend was anything but the Prince Charming she had been hoping for, and after substantial abuse, a male friend stepped in to put a stop to it and instantly became her Knight and Shining Armor. He whisked her away from the bad situation she had found herself in, however, 3 months into what at first seemed like the perfect relationship, it too took a turn for the worse.
He was incredibly abusive and an alcoholic. He would be out drinking all night then come home mean and drunk. Eventually drugs got in the mix too, and that actually seemed to help curb the anger that came from the drinking. She had a second child, another boy, and she resolved to stay in the marriage despite how he treated her. She purchased some property, but unbeknownst to him, she put the property in her son’s name, rather than her own, that way in case they did divorce, she would be able to keep the house for her son.
She was the breadwinner of the family. His drinking made it difficult for him to hold down a job, so the brunt of income came from her. The abuse continued over the course of several years, along with repeated affairs. She did her best to tolerate it, but she found herself unable to cope. Everything came to a head one evening when he held her hostage for 3 days in their home. She feared for her life as he wielded a gun, threatening to kill her, and tortured her for all that time. She was able to escape, and in fear of what would happen to her if she returned, she decided to go to London, where her oldest son was working at the US embassy and would need help moving back to the US when his duties there were over. She wasn’t sure that she would even return, but after several weeks away, she knew she needed to come home and face him. However, nothing could’ve prepared her for what she would find once she arrived at the airport.
His life hanging in the balance, the doctor had been desperately trying to reach Deborah. However, on a long flight with no cell service, it wasn’t until she touched down that she was notified of her husband’s grave condition. He had been brutally stabbed and was in a coma that doctors feared he would not come out of. They needed her, his power of attorney, to make a crucial decision: keep him on the ventilator or take him off life support. She was shaken. What had happened? And what should she do to her former tormentor?
While police couldn’t prove what exactly had happened, and to this day, no one has been convicted of that crime, while Deborah had been on an extended stay in London, her husband had been having an affair. The woman he was with had stabbed him in a fit of rage, however, there was no evidence found connecting her to the murder. The rumors swirling around what had happened eventually made their way back to Deborah. The rumors would look more like truth when it was discovered that the other woman had stolen all his money plus $10,000 which was actually his mother’s. Shocked and reeling from the events that had taken place, she still had a choice to make.
After hearing the doctor’s grim prognosis and his odds at survival, she decided to take him off life support. She was putting an end to his life, to their marriage, to the pain, the suffering, the torture, and the abuse. She wasn’t glad about it though. She was tormented. Their son was adamant about keeping him on the ventilator and when she decided against it, he was devastated and held it against her. Their relationship was forever changed. Furthermore, despite how badly her husband had abused her and cheated on her, she truly loved him, and that was why she had stayed all those years. Her heart was shattered.
That wasn’t the only thing that had broken that day though. Her mind was starting to fray. How much could a person handle before they snapped? With all their money gone, her companion, although abusive, was also gone, and her youngest son angry with her, now she was facing life alone. She took on a job traveling long distances delivering narcotics to nursing homes to help keep her mind off things. The money was good, and it kept her very busy. She was making an attempt at rebuilding her life, despite her fragile mental state. However, a winter storm moved in, and unable to travel for work, she feared losing her job. Stuck at home in gloomy weather with stress and bills piling high, it finally happened. She snapped.
Wanting to end her life, but unable to actually pull the trigger herself, she called 911 threatening suicide. When the cops arrived though, instead of finding a weeping and fragile Deborah, they were greeted by a gun and over 200 rounds of ammunition. Deborah was ready to fire, knowing that the police would do the dirty work that she herself wasn’t able to. But something moved in that situation. She was ready to start shooting, but police on site that personally knew Deborah convinced her to stand down.
It’s been a long journey for her since that day. She has been in counseling, which has helped tremendously, and she’s also found Jesus Christ. Although she had a home to return to once she was released, the memories of being held hostage, all the abuse, the police standoff, everything that she had been through inside those four walls, it was just too much for her to face while living alone. Her counselor had referred her to Gospel Rescue Mission, where she would be able to stay and get herself together until she was ready to make decisions about what to do with her home.
At first, she struggled with all the rules, but she’s been here long enough now to realize that the structured environment we are trying to instill in our guests is crucial for personal development. “God has shown me that you have to have structure in your life.” Her home is up for sale right now, and if she is able to sell it, she can take the money and buy a new home, however, if it doesn’t sell, she is working toward being able to face her demons and overcome them so that she can still live a happy life in her old house.
Deborah is a part of our Work Start Program on the hospitality tract where she is mastering clerical skills that will help her lock in a better job in the future. She is working full time as well and is making a lot of progress on her personal goals for herself. While she was once in a dark place, Deborah has such a positive attitude about the future. Her faith in God is helping her to stay strong and keep moving forward. His grace reminds her to focus on where she’s going rather than where she’s been. And Deborah is headed for great things!