My experience in the ARCS program has been the BEST investment I have ever
given myself. My only wish is that I could have found it much sooner.
I immediately ended a 19 year relationship with my abusive partner shortly after
enrolling into this program.
I was helpless and hopeless after trying to salvage what was left of our relationship for
the sake of my children, because I was heavily co-dependent on him.
I had not sensed that he was a narcissist and that my relationship was so toxic.
He conditioned me into thinking that it was normal and this was his way of showing me
love. It was so familiar to me that I didn’t even know I was being “abused”. These are
just a few things that I learned as a student, while in the program – that I was
completely unaware of, before ARCS.
I was living in Arizona with his family for about 5 years, with no friends or support
system. I longed for my own place, but he was never someone I could rely on.
I had tried to leave him once before.
The first domestic violence shelter I went to was located in Arizona. I enrolled into
Arizona State University majoring in Social Work, and I was finally ready to start a new
life and obtain a degree.
He located me because my daughter was still in contact with him. I felt horrible for
having to put her through this, and she hated the new living arrangements. She
pleaded to return back with her father, so I was willing to try to work it out while living
I found a place and, with my scholarships and financial aid, I secured a trailer house for
rent. I only endured more isolation from him, as he went back and forth from my home
to his family’s and convinced me that my daughter was best living with him.
He was so controlling and manipulative that he promised to help me with expenses
and promised that my daughter could come and live with me, “eventually” – but all of
that was a lie. He never helped me with any expenses, and my daughter never lived
with me.
He would come over to stalk, harass, and accuse me of having men over.
I didn’t have a job or a car so that wasn’t even possible. Those were just some of the
horrible things he put me through. The worst was waiting for him to return so he could
take me to purchase groceries or use his cell phone so I could turn in my assignments.
I was only able to do this by being forced into sexual acts as a form of bargaining. He
was so deceitful. I had finally had enough and could no longer put myself through the
verbal, physical, emotional, and financial abuse.
It was during my first couple of classes that I remember my coach discussing
domestic violence.
I came to realize that my abuser was a narcissist and that my whole life with him was a
vicious cycle of abuse.
I made the choice to walk away from this lonely, depressing, and miserable life, and I
made the decision that it was best for my daughter to stay with him until I could
relocate. She agreed that this is what she wanted also, so I left my home and never
looked back.
I reached out to a domestic violence shelter that provided a mobile crisis unit
which came out to my home and rescued me.
They were such a powerful resource in helping me because they reunited me with my
then 17-year-old son. My abuser decided since my son was living with me and chose
to relocate with me, then he wasn’t allowed to live with him again.
My son had no choice but to live with friends because the organization only allowed
women and children. He began living on the streets.
I begged the organization to please help me with my son. I was so blessed when they
provided a cab to pick my son up from a local park and placed us both in a hotel for
four months.
We were also provided with assistance to move. These are the things that reminded me
of why I was making the right decision. I was no longer in love, and I honestly hated
him for everything he put me through – for keeping my daughter from me the entire
time I was living away from her, and for disowning my son for his decision to stay with
me through such a difficult time in both of our lives.
Today, my daughter lives with me! I was able to establish a home and bring her to live
with me.
I can honestly say that my encounter for the first time in an ARCS class felt safe
and welcoming.
My connection with all of the other women brought me a sense of relief because we
shared similar childhood experiences like growing up in a dysfunctional home and past
traumatic relationships.
My mother was a critical parent and was never there for me emotionally. I judged
myself harshly and had very low self-esteem.
I stuffed my feelings and lost my ability to feel or express because it hurt so much, and
I was always seeking approval from others while losing my identity in the process.
These were just some of my relationship patterns that I carried into my adulthood,
specifically into abusive relationships and the relationships with my children.
What I love about ARCS is their devotion to the healing process and the
emotional skills to help trauma survivors.
They provide a self-paced curriculum which was very important for me because I was
rebuilding my life all over again. The best part of being involved in ARCS was the
opportunity to heal myself while obtaining my certifications which have been my
greatest accomplishments.
I have so much to be thankful for, especially the grace of God and His timing. He
prepared me and provided me with this window of fate to come across ARCS.
The ARCS journey has impacted my life in so many ways.
I came out of denial about my traumatic childhood, and I regained the ability to feel and
express my emotions. I am finally free.
I forgave my abuser, my mother and myself for not knowing what I know now. I no
longer carry the blame, guilt or shame and do not depend on others to tell me who I
I love how I no long feel guilty for standing up for myself but most importantly, I
stopped judging and condemning myself and discovered my self-worth. I have my own
identity, my confidence, and my power back.
I am blessed to have the opportunity to inspire and empower others to know they
are not alone.