Not Just A Number: Malai

So many times we use statistics to show the urgency of domestic violence. One in the three women will experience domestic violence, 63 calls to the hotline every day, the list goes on and on. But what we always strive to remember is that each of those numbers is a life with a story, each story truly deserves to find a life free from domestic violence.


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Malai, Age 29

“My family was very poor, and one day a man came and paid a dowry to marry me and take me to the United States. I was terrified, but also excited. I had heard about the United States and I thought I could have a better life here, but it wasn’t what I expected because we moved to a trailer house in the country and he began emotionally and physically hurting me.

“Very soon I became pregnant, but after having the baby the fighting continued. One morning in October a man who lived close to us saw my black eye and came back the next morning with a cellphone. He told me I should call for help if I needed to. But almost immediately my husband found the phone and moved me even further out into the middle of nowhere.

“We didn’t have a floor, no heat, no phones or vehicles and he always kept the gate locked at the front of the property. My son and I slept on the dirt floor while he slept on a waterbed. I was living worse than I was back home.

“One morning after a horrible fight I heard police sirens outside and saw police coming through the door. I cried when they arrested him and came to me. They told me a man was walking close to the barn and heard my screams. He is my guardian angel.

“I was referred to SafeHaven to find help and I was so fortunate to find their legal support team. It turns out the man who took me from my home country made over $100,000 a year and took hot showers every morning before work. SafeHaven helped me receive more than $200,000 from his 401K and a savings account that he hid from me. I also got medical support, spousal support and over half of his property, and he received little to no access to my child.

“My son and I bought a house and now I’m attending school to become a nurse so I can help people. I graduate this May.”