Safe Home, Fresh Start: Lexi’s Story

Black and white photo of mom kissing baby wearing hood.Trigger warning: This story contains content about domestic violence. Please take care of yourself.

“I feel very comfortable here,” says Lexi. “I hated being at shelters with my son. It was hard.”

For years, 25-year-old Lexi had been bouncing from shelter to shelter with her 5-year-old in tow – all over Indiana, wherever there was room – and back and forth between her mother’s house and her abuser’s house. This last year was the worst. She even attempted a move to California, where she grew up. She had her own place for a while but lost it after a stolen car caused her to go without transportation to work for two months. “I had to wait for tax money for a new car with no payments,” says Lexi. “I got evicted because I couldn’t pay my rent. And that was my first place on my own with no Section 8 or no help, so it was hard. After that, I went back to his dad and got pregnant again.”

Lexi came to Indiana in middle school when her family moved to Bloomington. She’s been in the Indianapolis area on and off for several years.

For Lexi, domestic violence was her normal growing up. “I came from an abusive home,” she says. “My dad used to beat my mom. I love my dad, though. I really ran into somebody just like my dad. I thought if you don’t fight, then the person doesn’t love you. When he didn’t want me doing things, I thought it was because he loved me. But now he’s just a freaking weirdo. I didn’t want him in control anymore.”

Lexi met her abuser at 18. When they met, she had a male roommate, and when she got pregnant, he said he wasn’t sure the baby was his. “He manipulated me,” she says. “So I had an abortion the first time I was pregnant. I went to California and tried to move back, and that’s when I had it. And he sweet-talked me back here.” Three months later, she was pregnant again with her now 5-year-old.

He tried to get her to abort again. She didn’t want to. “And then he said, ‘Oh, forget it, we don’t know where we’ll be in 10 months, just keep it,” says Lexi. “I kept the baby, and we were in love, right? We had our honeymoon stage after the first baby and then after that, it was terrible.

The abuse escalated. “He’s busted my lip open,” says Lexi. “He’s knocked my teeth out a couple of times. He’s broken my phone, taken my phone. He’s turned my phone off. He’s kicked me. He’s destroyed my mom’s car. He’s tried to destroy mine before.”

When she got pregnant with her new baby, he pulled her hair out. “That’s why my hair is so short right now,” she says. “He pulled a whole layer out because he got caught cheating. I would leave him and go back and leave him and go back. I’m not going back anymore.”

Photo of 5-year-old boy with eyes closed snuggling babyLexi came to Coburn Place right before Christmas. She was eight months pregnant with her son, who was born in January. “He didn’t want me to keep the baby, so he gave me hell my whole pregnancy,” she says. She was scared he would give her the abortion pills he’d ordered online against her will. Lexi called a shelter and was referred to Indy Champions for Domestic Violence, who referred her to Coburn Place. “I was scared it was too good to be true,” she says.

She was living with him – walking on eggshells, lying low and biding her time before she fled to Coburn Place.

While her 5-year-old was at school, she told her abuser she was going to her mom’s. There, she collected the things she’d been secretly gathering in the shed and drove to Coburn Place, moving everything in before she picked up her son. “I put all his posters up and got all his toys together,” she says. “He was so happy and so excited. He’s like, ‘I love my house! I love my room!’”

Lexi says moving in was a relief. “My son had a Christmas,” she says. “We had a Christmas tree up in our apartment already when we came. It was nice. He got Christmas presents that I wasn’t able to get. He had a Christmas party. Those community parties and get-togethers are really good for my son because we don’t have friends. So I try to take him to all of those because that’s like our only social time.”

Lexi’s goal is “to become stable and independent where I don’t have to worry about not having a place to live.” She wants to have a secure job, too, and to pay off her eviction. She has plans to start working, finish high school, earn certifications, and enroll her oldest in kindergarten. “I need to do everything I can,” she says. “It’s just so scary. I don’t want this year to be a waste.” Right now, she’s focusing on setting up therapy and her sons.

“It just sucks for my kid because he loves his dad,” says Lexi. “My son has witnessed him verbally abusing me badly. He’ll say, ‘I want you and Daddy to get along. He’s rude to you. I don’t like the way he talks to you.’ It’s just sad. He’s 5 – my son is way too grown for his age.”

Lexi says in the first weeks at Coburn Place, her oldest was calm and happy. “Now he’s used to living here,” she says. “He knows we don’t live with his dad anymore, so he’s back into that misbehaving stuff, but he just has some behavioral issues I have to take care of. He doesn’t respect me because his dad doesn’t respect me. He also needs to be busy because he’s one of those kids who has to be on a schedule, and our schedule’s kind of been messed up lately.”

Lexi has hope, though. “I’m so excited for him and for me,” she says. “I feel secure. I don’t have any friends here – I don’t really know anybody – but so far, everybody’s been nice to me. This is my time to get it together, and it’s already going by so fast.”

Photos by Clay House Photography

________

To support survivors like Lexi, make a gift here