Ana: Learning to Love Myself

Ana had already graduated from college and was working in a hospital in Mexico when she met her future husband and eventual abuser.

Ana’s story of abuse started the very first week of marriage. Immediately following her wedding in Mexico, they moved to his home in Atlanta. From the beginning of their relationship Ana was often accused of flirting with other men, often being beaten by her husband whenever he suspected her of flirting.

She spent 17 years in an emotionally, physically and financially abusive relationship.  She often said, “I was mistreated one day, the next one maybe not. I never knew” Because of her loneliness and isolation, when she was 7 months pregnant with her first son she decided to go back to her hometown in Mexico to have her baby.  After hearing the news, her husband put her on the street with a trash bag with her belongings. She returned to Mexico to have her son, but after six months her husband convinced her to return to Atlanta so “they could be a family”. Unfortunately, nothing changed. Ana’s husband continued the cycle of beating her. Later Ana’s second child was born into this nightmare.

Because Ana’s husband never completed the legal paperwork for her citizenship, she felt trapped with no way out of the marriage and no way to survive by herself.

She was fortunate enough to meet a lawyer that helped her gain residency through Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

What ultimately helped Ana leave the abusive relationship was finding out her eldest son was cutting himself because he was unable to help his mother. She realized her husband would never change and filed for divorce.

Ana found the support she needed in PADV’s community support group. There she saw all the red flags she had ignored in her ex-husband’s abusive behavior.  She learned to be self-sufficient and love herself. After a long, arduous process Ana finally gained legal status and became a United States citizen in the summer of 2019.  She now works in a school and as a part time childcare provider.  Ana and her two sons are living in a safe, loving and violence-free home.

*Name changed to protect the survivor’s identity*