Being traumatized by her abuser, (an ex-Marine,) who had served two tours in the Viet Nam war, Candice had been physically, mentally, and spiritually broken. With her struggles to survive his brutal attacks on her, the welfare system stepped in and traumatized her further by legally kidnapping her children. Did she ever get her children back?
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Candice Stevens is a survivor of domestic abuse during the years there weren’t any laws for protecting a woman from violent acts inflicted by her spouse. Many times she ended up with broken bones, bruises and black eyes. But the worst pain she endured through all of this was a broken heart and a broken spirit as her abuser caused her to lose what really mattered to her most: her children. When one nightmare came to an end, another one began as Candice had to live through the welfare and court system, then finally live with the consequences from this time in her life for over the last twenty years. However, instead of letting these painful events tear her down and cause her to fall by the wayside, she has been filled with God’s grace and strength to help other women of domestic violence.
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AUTUMN HAD SET IN EARLY WITH the magnificent trees displaying
their bright colors, beautiful reds, oranges, yellows and light greens.
Candice drew in a deep cleansing breath while her eyes soaked up the wonders
of creation as the cool gentle breezes blowing softly in through the car window
caressed her cheeks. The ugliness of where she had just come from seemed
to disappear, just for that moment.
The long journey that she was to make today was the beginning of a new
direction in her life, but this she hadn’t realized as life had taught her not to plan,
much less count on anything or anyone.
The memories and the physical pain she bore, stung her entire being as she
drove through this new town, now called, “home”. Tears filled her eyes while
sitting at the stoplight waiting for it to turn green.
The next block would be the starting point to search for the building that had
the sign, “Comfort for the Abused…Battered Women’s Support Group.” Her
eyes began to search first to the left then to the right. A horn sounded behind
her, making her jump. She looked up and realized the light had changed. Wiping
the tears from the corner of her eyes, she glanced in the rearview mirror afraid
that it was him; but to much relief she saw that it was an angry driver shaking
his fist, yelling something. She was grateful that she couldn’t hear what he was
saying…she drove on.
The block was long and at the end on the right nestled among tall stately
pines, a small white building stood. The sign out by the street announced this was her destination.
A beautiful driveway lined with many other variety of trees made a colorful canopy over head which gave off the feeling of calm. She turned in and drove to the end where it curved behind the building that looked
more like a home filled with love. She was amazed at how large the parking
lot was, and how many cars were parked there already for she had left early
to allow herself time to discover its location. She decided she would park near the back, that way she wouldn’t be noticed if she decided to leave instead of going in. She never did feel comfortable being around a lot of people, especially people she didn’t know. She noticed one lady getting out of her vehicle who was dressed nicely and walked with a bounce in her step. Candice turned her head for she was ashamed of her appearance, and this happy go lucky lady looked so beautiful… normal. Not a mark on her- only make-up painted on a doll’s face. She must be the director of this group, Candice thought as she sat
back and watched her disappear into the building.
The warm breeze blowing in through the opened window gave her a feeling
of peace and solitude. Candice laid her head back on the headrest, and floated
along with this newly found feeling that swept over her as she watched other
vehicles slowly fill the parking lot. So many cheerful women poured out of
them, all perfect… all normal, laughing and joking as they walked towards the
building, only to be swallowed up behind large wooden doors. “This is nuts,”
Candice mumbled to herself, “I don’t belong here.”
She looked in her rearview mirror and the tears streamed down her cheeks
once more. The sight of herself made her sick to her stomach. Her once pretty
face spotted a small bruise on the left side of her chin, and the right side of her
face was nothing but solid dark purple, swollen as high as the peak of her nose
where the white taped bandage spread across going from cheek to cheek.
Her blue eyes that use to sparkle, were eerie to look at, for where the white
part of her right eye had been white, it was now encased with a bright blood
red color while the same side of her face on her forehead, a huge lump had
formed instantly from the glass ash tray he hit had her with. It now was turning
just as dark purple as the rest of that side. Her hair that had been full on her
head had multiple bald spots from where it had been ripped from its place.
Her throat also held spots of the same dark purple hue, looking diseased.
Candice wept… the agony spilled forth as she could only stare at the image
that stared right back at her. She was in pain, not only physically but tortured
mentally too. “How could he do this to me?” she wailed out loud, “how could
he?” She laid her head back once again against the headrest and cried until the
tears didn’t seem to flood anymore, but just trickle down her cheeks.