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She became her own hero.
26th Apr


She became her own hero.

Imagine being 19 with a toddler and a baby on the way. Then picture escaping not one but two abusive partners. This was reality for Brianna.

The graphic details of her story illustrate so many of the different ways that abusers control their victims. But she reclaims her power when she acknowledges understanding the warning signs and realizes that she had fallen into a cycle of violence – one that her kids will have to bear the burden of if she doesn’t end it.

Her story is hard to hear. The violence and trauma she and her daughter suffered will break your heart. But the courage and determination inside her will put it back together.

This is how Brianna’s prince charming became her biggest nightmare and you gave her the support to become her own hero.

Brianna shared her story in front of a sold out audience of 450 people at our Blue & Gold Breakfast event on March 23. Watch the video or read the transcript below.

“Firstly, I just wanted to thank each and every one of you for being here this morning. I am overwhelmed with the amount of support Coburn place is receiving today. Whether you donate your time, money, or even furniture and kitchen supplies. The families at Coburn Place are so thankful for each and every one of you.”

“My story started in 2015. I was 18 years old and had just moved into an apartment with my one year old daughter, Miyah. This was my first time living completely on my own. I had just graduated high school in the top 10 of my class, which was really exciting. I was also the youngest real estate assistant hired by Arbor Homes. Life was going great, I was establishing my independence and creating a life I wanted for me and my daughter.”

“The only thing I felt was missing, was a man to share it with.”

“It was in April that I was late for a photoshoot, and was running into Walmart to get my eyebrows waxed. A man spotted me from his vehicle in the parking lot and came running towards me, ‘Bre, you stopped responding to me,’ he said. And as rushed as I was, not even realizing who it was, I just continued to run inside. You see, this guy had messaged me constantly on Facebook. I simply overlooked the majority of the messages and even began to ignore them. When I came out, this same man who had been messaging me on Facebook was standing by my car waiting for me. At the time, I was flattered that not only did this man recognize me simply from Facebook photos, but that he would wait for me to finish inside to talk to me.”

“Looking back, this was not fate. Nor was it romantic in any way. When I think back on these first days together, my stomach turns, because like many young girls, I had no idea what a “red flag” even meant. And this man was showing every single one of them.”

“Within 24 hours he was sleeping on my couch, in fact, after the first day, he never even left. It turned out that he was staying in the apartment complex next to mine.”

“Within the first few weeks we became very attached. My daughter, who had not seen her father since she was 6 months old, was now attached to this man. Constantly clinging to him, and even crying when he would leave. He was everything we both wanted. He brought me and my daughter flowers on Wednesdays, he never left us for long, and in fact, he took us everywhere he went. He even sat at my work with me. After only 2 months of dating, he convinced me to quit my job so that he could use my car to work. So I did. I quit my job and began to stay home with my daughter while he job searched. This sounds great right? To have a man so overly in love with you, that he wants to be with you every second and even wants you to quit his job so that he can take care of you. But I began to realize that he didn’t want to be with me every second, because he loved me, but because he didn’t trust me. He didn’t want me to not work, so that he could take care of me, but so that he could control me.”

“Tru then began to speak about having a child. He already had 3, but “If we just have one of our own, it would make our family complete, wouldn’t it? Don’t I treat your daughter like she’s mine? I want to have another baby,’ he would tell me. And as much as I insisted that I didn’t want another child, he continued to push, refusing to use condoms or the “pull out method” we had been using.”“The same month my daughter turned 2, I found out we were expecting. He was over the moon. Convincing me that giving him a child, would complete the life that he was trying to make for us.”

“Shortly after finding out I was pregnant, he began to be even more controlling. I decided we needed to break up, and figure out this whole parenting stuff later. We broke up for maybe 2 days, where we both decided to do the immature “rebound one night stand”- mine, with a guy I went to high school with, and him, with my friend.”

“That same week, he called me well over 100 times and even showed up to my apartment, promising me that he wanted a family, and he was just overwhelmed with the life changes. He had just gotten accepted at a union job that paid fairly well. He told me if we were back together, he could support us. Within 3 months he said, we can rent a bigger home together.”

Not even two weeks after starting his new job, I began to feel like a prisoner in my own home. He actually drove me to my best friend’s house and told her that I couldn’t be her friend anymore. He insisted that I don’t see my family because they didn’t like him. He even stopped letting me go to the grocery store.”

My prince charming was turning into my biggest nightmare. And I had lost everything from money, to support, to self-confidence, to save me from this man.”

“It was a late night in October, shortly after us getting back together, that he began to become enraged about my one night stand while we were broken up. I remember insisting to him, that he did the same thing, so why can’t we both just move on and learn from it? And if it was that big of a deal, than we should just break up, because I didn’t want to be with him anymore anyways.”

“That night he busted my lip open in the car, and began to strangle me. My daughter, watching everything from the backseat.”

“I remember waking up about half way home, and my first instinct was to call my mom, and he took my phone from my hands and threw it out the window. Once we were home, I took my daughter to the bathroom, to try and calm her down by brushing her teeth. She really liked brushing her teeth. I remember him coming back inside still yelling at me, and I begged that if he was going to hit me again, to please just put my daughter in the front room.”

“Instead, he sat her on the bathroom counter, and began to choke me again, telling me that I wasn’t good enough to have his child. That I was a whore, and that I’m lucky he doesn’t kill me, or black my eye.”

“For what felt like hours, I was curled up on the bathroom floor in the fetal position screaming and begging him not to kill our baby. This baby that I didn’t even want to be pregnant with in the first place, I was now fighting for his chance at life.  He finally agreed that he wouldn’t kill the baby, if I got an abortion in the morning. ‘Maybe if you act right, I will give you a child one day’ he told me.”

“Then he put my daughter to sleep, not even really allowing me to comfort her and ordered me into the room, blood still falling from my lips.”

“That night, we had sex for hours. And as he shoved my head against the wall, he kept telling me ‘I forgive you, but you’re still getting rid of this baby.’”

“The next morning, I packed me and my daughter up and we left to my mother’s house, who instantly saw my lip, and the bruises on my neck. Not knowing how many times he hit my stomach, we went to the emergency room.”

I spent the next 7 months of my pregnancy sharing a twin bed with my 2 year old daughter in a domestic violence shelter. I think this was the hardest time in my life, because I felt trapped. I personally, didn’t believe that abortion was an option I could live with, but I also knew I didn’t want another child. I began to go to abortion counseling, and contacting adoption agencies.”

“During my stay at the shelter, instead of taking the time to heal, I masked with another man, who found me on Facebook. He understood my pain, because he watched his mother be abused while growing up.”

“He started going with me to the ultrasounds. When I was hospitalized for the stomach flu, he was the only one who never left my side. But he too, began to show warning signs that I would overlook. “

“Three months before my due date, I decided that I was going to keep my baby, who was a boy, who I named Mason Kai-Taylor. Kai meaning strong and unbreakable because all of the odds had been against him.”

“My new boyfriend, Mike, rushed to the hospital with me when I went into labor. He cut Mason’s umbilical cord. And I felt, all of the ‘domestic violence stuf’ being a page of my past.”

“Not even 12 hours after mason was born, Mike wanted me to perform oral sex in the hospital room. When I didn’t, insisting that I was still hurting from the delivery, and wanting to snuggle my baby, he threw an entire bag of food on top of me.”

“I remember my first instinct being to call for security, but then I thought about the nurses faces and my parents who would surely be disappointed, that once again, I couldn’t make a man happy, nor could I choose a man who was good to me and my kids. At this point I was convinced that something was wrong with me, and I promised myself, that no matter how bad it got, I wouldn’t leave.”

“And it did get bad. He began telling my daughter that I was a bad mommy when we would fight. He would take my son from me, and make me do whatever it was that he wanted, just to hold him again. But despite things, I pretended to be so madly in love with him, because I didn’t want anyone to know that I failed again.”

“About 10 days after Mason was born, I got the call from Coburn Place that my name had came up on the waitlist. And I was so scared. Because my boyfriend didn’t want me to go. He told me he wanted a house together, but I quickly decided that Coburn Place was going to save me and not just me, but my children.”

You see, there’s this common misconception that places like Coburn Place, just help the victim, but I am a testimony that Coburn Place saves entire generations. Because of them, my son, never had to experience the harsh realities of a domestic violence shelter. Because of them, my daughter and my son were given a chance to live in a safe place just for them.”

“Our house was already decorated, I remember crying for hours the first time we came into my apartment. I remember being so afraid to sleep in my own apartment, that I would sit up at the front desk and talk to whoever was working.”

“While at Coburn Place, I still kept contact with Mike, but I began to attend every class Coburn Place had to offer. In those classes, we talked about red flags, and we talked about the cycle of abuse – all these things, that had definitions, that I never understood before. It all began to make sense! And it hit me, that I had fallen into a cycle of domestic violence, and if I didn’t stop it, my kids would be the one to bear the burden.”

“So I began to break up with my boyfriend, five times actually. Each time, I came back, out of fear.  He stole my car, he called CPS on me, and finally, he gave me my first black eye.”

“Coburn Place helped me call the police.”

“I remember crying in our domestic violence support group the night before our scheduled court date, telling them that I wasn’t going to court against this man. ‘He’s crazy!’ I told them. And it seemed like no matter how many times I insisted that he would ruin my life, they told me this was the reason I needed to go to court the next morning.”

“That night, after group, around 8pm, I had a knock on my door, with Miss Nicole from the front desk saying my advocate, Miss Jacqueline, was on the phone for me. Miss Jacqueline said “You’re going to court tomorrow, and I’m going with you.” And I remember feeling such a sense of security, that I just stopped fighting. I said okay. And the next morning we went to court. Before we even made it to the court room, my ex saw me and quickly jumped on the same elevator with us. Miss Jacqueline was the only person standing between us, not even realizing that she was becoming this barrier and protection for me. And at the point, I finally felt like I had someone who wasn’t afraid to protect me.”

“Miss Jacqueline went to every court date with me, and even when Mason’s father turned himself in, after being on the run for over a year, she never missed a court date. She sat next to me during both sentencing’s and never made me feel guilty or belittled.”

You see, Coburn Place has saved me, and it has saved my kids. I know that, without a doubt, If I didn’t go to Coburn Place, I would’ve kept the vow to myself to stay with a man who was abusing me. I also know, without a doubt, that I never would’ve taken the time to truly heal and process all of these events in my life.”

“While at Coburn place, even though I had my drawbacks, and my dark times, I’ve made a lot of successes. I decided that I had a passion to be the light for women stuck in the same darkness that I was, the same way Miss Jacqueline, Miss Teia, Miss Kimberly, Miss Dolly, Miss Andrea and many other women working with Coburn Place were a light for me.”

Because of Coburn Place, I did things I never thought I would do in a million years. I went back to school full time for human services, and have maintained all A’s on the Dean’s list since last January. I paid off my evictions, and I went from a 99 Oldsmobile to a 2013 Kia Sportage. I have my LLCs now, and currently work with 3 different companies, while striving to one day fulfill my goal, to open my own transitional apartments for women and children leaving domestic violence.”

“It’s now been 6 months, since I’ve finished with the court process for both of my exes. They were both sentenced, and have restraining orders in place. All thanks to my advocate and the other staff at Coburn Place, who encouraged me to never stop fighting. Coburn Place didn’t just save my life, but they restored my children’s innocence. My daughter no longer cries at night and asks me why my boyfriend is being mean to me. My son, is no longer used as bribery to do things I didn’t want to do.“

Coburn Place allowed me the cushion that I needed, to not only heal, but to rebegin my life, and become the person and mother that I always wanted to be.”

UPDATE: Brianna and her kids moved into their own apartment a few weeks later. When they came back to take advantage of programming, four-year-old, Miyah, proudly claimed, “This isn’t our home any more. Our new home is better because I have bunk beds!”  🙂

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