What was your mind set when you were 12 years old? Were you a little rebellious? Or were you a good kid? Or maybe a good kid stuck in a bad situation? The latter is where Kenneth found himself. His mother treated him very poorly, but at that age and with no one else to turn to or go to for advice, he made the only decision that he felt he could—he ran away. In the city where he lived in Kentucky, there was an expansive dump yard; the perfect place for a 12-year-old to live unnoticed by authorities who might either drag him back to his parents or to an even worse situation in foster care. In his mind, this was the best choice. So, he lived in the city dump, on his own and fending for himself as just a child for two entire years, that is until he was found and then placed into his worst case scenario—foster care—at age 14.
Just as he had expected though, his bad situation with his parents was a picnic compared to the abuse he suffered in foster care. In those days, foster care wasn’t as well monitored as it these days, and his mistreatment went on undiscovered until a phone conversation with his older sister promised a brighter future for him, and he was allowed to live with her and her husband. At long last, he was able to relax and just be a kid, at least for a short while. It wasn’t long before his childhood was officially over, and he needed to find employment at age 16. He went to work for a big company, and as his changing luck would have it, it was a great job with great pay. He eventually moved to Oklahoma and enlisted in the Army where he served for three years. It was during this time that he met a woman. He didn’t know it then, but she would change his entire world.
They got married, had a baby boy, and then the pressure was on to provide for his new family. He was really struggling to find a job in the civilian world, and relationships with the wrong kind of people led him to become a drug dealer, even though he never did drugs himself. About a year later, things changed though, and Kenneth landed a good job as a supervisor in a nursing home, then eventually working in a poultry plant. They moved around a bit before settling down in Idabel where he worked for 11 years at the same job without missing a single day of work. Despite his success in work, at home, things were falling apart.
His wife was very abusive, not just physically but mentally as well. On average, an Oklahoman dies every five days due to domestic violence, and although statistics reflect that these are often women, more and more men are coming forward with stories of being a victim of domestic abuse. For Kenneth, it was becoming more than he could handle, and after his wife told him she wished he would kill himself, he attempted to take his own life. When paramedics arrived, it was touch-and-go, and he flatlined on them, but fortunately, they were able to bring him back. Kenneth had narrowly escaped death, and with his new lease on life, he left his wife and moved to Muskogee, where he could be closer to the VA hospital.
On his own and in his own apartment for one of the first times in his life, Kenneth thought he had a fresh start, but his living situation was getting out of control with rowdy neighbors and other things making it so unbearable, he would rather be on the street than continue to stay where he was. And that’s when he came to Gospel Rescue Mission. Currently, he’s serving on our Work Start Program on the hospitality and custodial tract, while he’s actively seeking employment. He’s hoping to get a job and then save for an apartment.
Kenneth is now working toward a brighter future, but no doubt the scars of domestic abuse have left their mark. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse and needs help to get out of their current situation, please don’t hesitate to make that call and get help. Contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at https://www.thehotline.org/ to chat without voice or call 1-800-799-7233.