By: C. Miriam Pascual
Dawn Martinez is a beautiful young mother of five, while at her home I commented on the beautiful family pictures in her living room. She invited her sister and myself to sit and proceeded to recount her story. A story both her sister and I knew well. Dawn was married at 20 to a young Latino and like every young bride couldn’t wait to start her life. What she didn’t realize was that her life would take her to hell and she would need to struggle to get out.
At the hand of her new spouse Dawn alongside her children suffered all kinds of abuse, physical, mental and emotional. After about 13 years into the abusive relationship Dawn found the courage to leave and take her three young children with her. I remember the days right after she left… I remember what she carried with her as she arrived at her sister’s house — a few black garbage bags and her injured self esteemed. I remember her hidden laugh because her spouse didn’t like her to smile much less laugh. She found a way to laugh behind her hands with downcast eyes. I remember her tears, I remember her children’s fear, her son’s reluctance to speak, and he too would look with downcast eyes. I remember her daughter’s nervous habit – pulling her hair out as she expected the worst from the adults around her. I remember her children hoarding food, because while Dawn was at work, her spouse ate well while her children were told gluttony was a sin and there was no need to feed them; Oh yes Dawn’s Spouse is a religious abuser, he uses the bible and religion to keep everyone in line and remind them of hell and how everyone is going there.
While Dawn worked three jobs her spouse worked none and yet he controlled the finances. After she left that abusive relationship, Dawn began to slowly flourish and heal. She began to recount the abuse at her pace, it was hard to get her to open up but slowly she did and her sister and I hurt for her and those three children.
I remember her desire to get ahead, her first apartment and helping her purchase furniture. I remember her unwillingness to buy plastic containers dishes or chairs – because that is what he allowed her to purchase while they were married. I remember Dawn wanting glass dishes everything glass and fancy even if it was from the bargain section. I remember the first time she laughed …truly laughed without using her hands to hide her laugh. I remember that the tears didn’t come as often, and she stopped looking both ways as she left the house.
I remember her talking about the future. I remember her kid’s laughter; I remember her son’s hugs. I remember her meeting a man, a good man. I remember the relationship flourishing. I remember giving her a speech on how good that man was for her kids and whatever she did think about the bond he is forming with those kids. I remember her telling me she was expecting again after having three children with her ex the youngest being twelve… I remember taking her to church for guidance, I remember her tears of healing while we sang in church. I remember her decision to leave NY and the crushing loss I felt to think she would not be around anymore. I remember her wedding …
Today Dawn has a new life she smiles all the time. We sat in her living room and she showed us the graduation pictures telling us how proud and thankful she was to finally display those three pictures, and said “I promised them when we left that this would come, these pictures are proof that they did it; proof that I haven’t let them down, proof that I could only do this with the help of the Lord”. Dawn Martinez, it is amazing to see how far you have come and in a year’s time I would like to be amongst the first few calling you Dr. Dawn Martinez. When that time comes, we will again remember together the path that led you there.
It is amazing to see the rewards of a single mother who is willing to take care of her family!
This is an excerpt of Dawns Martinez story – Mujer!