A story of one woman's journey to free herself and her children from abuse
Health Life Parenting Sex and Relationships

The Homeless Mermaid and the Whale: My Story of Abuse and Freedom

A story of one woman's journey to free herself and her children from abuse

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By Holley Perry of Chasing Destino

This is a story of how a person can lose everything that meant anything in a matter of six months.

There was a woman who felt like a lonely mermaid. She was constantly looking for her prince, or at least a decent merman. Then she met someone whom she thought was worthy of her love. However, it was not meant to be. He abused her children while she slept. He abused her while she was awake.

I didn’t think that I would be that person who would be in a toxic relationship. I also did not think that I would ever, ever leave my two daughters with my ex-husband. I agreed to do so in order to get my abusive boyfriend away from them. It was not how I wanted things to be. I wanted to be the most protective mother, but I was failing my children miserably. Plus, I had another child on the way.

At that time, my days were not filled with inspiration or any sort of happiness—not just because I was within days of sleeping on the streets. On top of the stress of being practically homeless and pregnant, I was still with the abuser.

I went into the psych ward during this time of the abusive relationship and leaving my kids. My mind was officially broken. I wanted to die. I tried to die by taking a lot of pills. It was not effective. At the time, I did not feel lucky to be alive.

While I was in the hospital, I had an idea that required me to be stronger than ever. I had to fix my life. I didn’t want to be a lonely mermaid anymore. The idea was to move far away from my kids and take the abuser with me. So the abuser and I moved from Ohio to Florida.

I am not normally a liar, but I lied in order to get him to agree to this idea of moving to Florida. It was my idea. It was almost genius. Almost. Becoming homeless and staying at a shelter was definitely not part of the plan. I had two problems: no money and an abuser in my face 24/7.

We ran out of money and had nowhere to stay, except the car, the street or a shelter. While we were homeless for a month, there were several thoughts that ran through my head on a daily basis. One theme kept popping up in unexpected places: Jonah and the Whale. I felt like a homeless mermaid who had caught a whale instead of a prince.

One day, Joel Osteen was talking about Jonah and the Whale. I don’t watch Mr. Osteen very often. Okay, I had never watched his sermons before or since. However, that day I listened to his whole speech. Jonah hid from his duties inside of the whale. He did not do what he was supposed to do. Maybe I was hiding from my duties beside the whale.

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Apparently, it’s very common for women and children to be homeless after leaving their abuser. I’m not sure how common it is for the abuser and victim to be homeless together. I felt hopeless because I could not get rid of this whale.

The second experience that truly spoke to me was a woman from a church giving her testimony. It was for me, I had no doubt. Basically, she said, “Leave him. He is not for you. Go home.” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s what I heard. It’s what I needed to hear again.

About a month into being homeless, a minister came to the homeless shelter to preach. Guess what his sermon was about that day? Jonah and the Whale. The point of his sermon was that some people have a whale. The whale could be drug addiction, insecurity or whatever is holding you back from living a good life.

I knew it was time to leave for good. It was time to let go of my whale; otherwise, he was going to suck the last bit of life out of me and our unborn daughter. I called the domestic violence shelters but they would not accept me because I was not officially a Florida resident yet. So it was time for me to put aside my few scraps of pride and call someone from back home.

My phone contact list consisted of all female names, in case my abuser looked through my phone. The only male on the list was my dad, whose real name I kept. All of the other men had code names. For example, my ex-husband was Suzy, instead of Billy. My friend, David, was Vicky. My kids called him Uncle David so I started to call him Uncle Vicky during this trip.

I made a phone call to Uncle Vicky the next day. It was important that I didn’t cry. My abuser was super suspicious of everything, even when it was nothing. Uncle Vicky and I made arrangements for me to come back to Ohio by the end of the week.

I left the whale at 3 a.m. in February 2008. He called every name in the phone that I left behind at 5 a.m., including my ex-husband. He found out that Suzy was not really Suzy.

I do not regret tricking him. I do not regret leaving him hundreds of miles from his family. The plan was a bit extreme, but I would do it all again. It was something I felt truly led to do. It was the beginning of a new life for me and youngest daughter. I had to rebuild every relationship that I had, including my mom, my two older daughters and my dad. Nothing was easy when I returned, but I’m glad I came home.

Last year, I saw the whale, but I walked away without saying anything. I will always walk away from the whale.

A version of this post was originally published on Chasing Destino.



About Holley Perry

Holley Perry is a mom, girlfriend, blogger, fangirl, music lover. survivor, bucket list achiever. There are so many things that she wants to do. Her kids are embarrassed by her dancing in public. She thinks she has the moves like Jagger. Holley is a contributor on Huffington Post and a blogger at Chasing Destino.