Homeless abuse survivor, mother shares heartbreaking, powerful story

80% of homelessness is related to domestic violence

SAN ANTONIO – It's a stunning statistic.

Eighty percent of homelessness is related to domestic violence, which is why local experts say the majority of the homeless are mothers and children.

A homeless abuse survivor in San Antonio reinforces that fact and is sharing her heartbreaking, yet powerful story.

She's still in hiding from the abusive father of her children, so for her safety, KSAT 12 News is not identifying her.

"I went on the run from my stalker in 2016. He made sure to take every vehicle, every piece of clothing. He stole everything from me. Though there is everything someone can possibly do to try to get a protective order, to try to get charges to stick, but those things did not help. Everything he's done, he's gotten away with," she said.

Special Section: KSAT 12 presents documentary-style special: 'In The Shadows'

Special Section: 'Loving In Fear' Confronting Domestic Violence

Even being at the Battered Women and Children's Shelter and Haven for Hope terrified her because she was convinced he would find her.

She also refused to put her family in danger.

"If I were to turn to them, my stalker would punish them," she said. "This is a fight I've had to fight on my own. My stalker is my children's father. My mother has adopted my children. I made sure that happened."

Giving up her children was the hardest thing she has ever done.

"I don't get to see them much. It's extremely difficult," she said, crying. "They are definitely safer, and that was the goal. The second goal was if my mother adopted my children, if their father killed me, he couldn't fight for them anymore."

Now, it's tents, tarps, covered mattresses and what she calls security.

"The PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and the looking over my shoulder, all that stuff. I've faced it all, and it's thanks to the people around me right now," she said. "We love each other, we take care of each other, we're like a family."

With her street family, she feels the care and freedom she never had in her relationship.

But it comes at a price.

"It was two different attempted rapes. Dumpster diving, mostly for food," she said.

She knows it's not a forever plan, and Family Violence Prevention Services CEO Marta Pelaez said it shouldn't be.

"So many times, we have to move people very quickly from one moment to the next to another shelter because either the children have disclosed the location or simply because he has found out the location," Pelaez said.

Although changes need to be made, sometimes to keep families safe, she said that does not mean safety is lost.

"We have a network of shelters all throughout the nation, and I even venture to say outside of the United States, because we have made certain calls to shelters around the world," Pelaez said.

However, Pelaez can only offer that help if survivors reach out.

"We have all the resources under one roof. We do provide legal services. We have a clinic, we have a school, we have counseling, we have therapeutic services for you and your children. Transportation, housing. We transfer people to all kinds of housing," Pelaez said.

Those are services the brave mom on the streets soon plans to utilize.

"I still say I win because here I am after he promised to bury me before letting me go," she said. "A year from now, I want to be in a place where I have financial stability."

She is a strong and proud survivor, determined not only to survive, but to succeed.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help available.

For comprehensive services, you can call Family Violence Prevention Services, which runs the Battered Women and Children's Shelter, at 210-733-8810.

You can also call the Bexar County Family Justice Center at 210-631-0100.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 800-799-7233

There is also a long list of resources at ksat.com/domesticviolence.

About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

Dale Keller is senior news photographer at KSAT-12.