After being attacked and stalked by her ex-boyfriend, then seeing him go to prison for his actions, Alisa bravely chose to keep his baby that she carried throughout the trial. Only 22 and a senior in college, there would be many challenges ahead as a single mom on her own. She has faced them one by one and 10 years later is choosing to take her story public for the first time. I was honored she trusted me to share it here. She hopes that by doing so, other women will be inspired to take action against their abusers and choose life for themselves and their children. And, finally, she wants to impress upon people to offer a hand to the single moms in their lives however they feel prompted to. The desire for understanding and compassion is there, even if unspoken.
Following are Alisa’s very candid answers to some very personal questions. (You can read more of her story in Part I here.)
MamaBird: What gave you the strength to keep from dropping the charges against your abuser even after continuing your relationship with him?
Alisa: When I learned I was pregnant with my daughter, I felt God used that to motivate me not to drop the charges against my abuser. I didn’t want her to be around him, knowing he’d committed this crime against me and could harm her also.
MB: Would you say that your pregnancy saved you from allowing your abuser to go free and furthering your relationship with him?
A: I think having a sexual relationship with him outside of marriage was wrong. However, God shows us tremendous grace and mercy when we mess up. He says in His Word He is able to turn all things to good for those who love Him. I believe that’s what He’s done for me in this situation, and I am so grateful.
MB: What advice would you give to other women who feel stuck in an abusive relationship?
A: First of all, you’re not stuck. So don’t believe that lie. It’s scary to think about leaving, but you can do it. Don’t be led by your feelings. Muster up every ounce of faith you can, find help and GET OUT!
MB: At what point in your pregnancy did you know you were going to keep your baby?
A: I think deep down inside me, I always knew. Somewhere in my subconscious mind, God was preparing me for His answer. I spent most of my pregnancy seeking His will for mine and my baby’s life. When I knew God wanted me to parent her (rather than place her for adoption), He provided the confidence and grace for me to do it also.
MB: You were only 21 and in your senior year of college. Did the thought of terminating the pregnancy ever cross your mind?
A: Yes, the idea of having an abortion did tempt me. But I chose not to entertain that thought.
MB: Were there times as a young mother that you doubted that you had made the right choice?
A: Oh yes! [Laughs.] Doesn’t every mom? The level of loneliness I at times felt definitely would cause me to second guess my decision. Whatever the reason, I think all moms face doubt at some point.
MB: What insights can you share with others who may be struggling with that choice?
A: I highly recommend having a relationship with Jesus Christ. Knowing He is Who He said He is (God incarnate); did what He said He’d do (be the final sacrifice for sin); miraculously came back to life and is alive in heaven today (plus sent His Holy Spirit to live in me), has given me everything I need to overcome anything.
MB: How were your grades that last year of college?
A: I was determined to still succeed in college, so my grades were as good as they’d always been. Plus, God gave me favor with my professors who supported me.
MB: Do you feel like you missed out on your 20s?
A: Well… I didn’t miss out on my 20s; I still had to go through them! [Laughs.] But I know what you mean. I do feel like my early twenties were pretty tumultuous, coming out of what I did. There was a period of time when I felt so plagued by the assault, I sort of “checked out” mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was trying to cover the wound, rather than let God take care of me. Thankfully, I’ve been delivered from all that.
MB: Were there ever times when you feared becoming homeless?
A: Before, and even shortly after, my daughter was born I looked for places to live. But at that time I wasn’t in a position to (a.) afford much or (b.) quickly find help to move. So I looked into the Salvation Army’s shelter for homeless adults. Once my mother learned I’d done that, she and my stepfather allowed me to live with them until school resumed a couple months later.
MB: What kind of baby was your daughter?
A: My daughter is filled to the brim with joy! She’s such a blessing. One of my favorite memories of her is when she would wake up in the morning and pull herself to a stand at the foot of her crib. I’d be still sleeping in the other room, so she’d laugh out loud to get my attention! What child responds that way instead of crying! [Laughs.] I don’t know, but I try not to take it for granted! [Laughs.]
MB: What age was your daughter when you first decided to start dating again and what were the challenges you faced?
A: Dating by design presents challenges! [Laughs.] Pretty much anytime people are involved, it’s tricky. So I don’t count myself unique in that regard. As I said, I would try to heal my hurt so I sought relationship. Finding men to be with wasn’t hard, especially when my daughter was a baby. As she got older though, I became more careful. In a way I felt more accountable as she grew up; I became more aware of the example I was setting. And that’s a good thing!
MB: If the right man walked into your life now, would you feel your life would be complete?
A: My life is complete today because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. Does that mean my daughter and I don’t desire relationship with the right man in our life? No. In fact, the past couple years we have been more fervently asking God for the husband He has for me and the father He has for her to come into our lives soon.
MB: What does your daughter know about her father?
A: I want her to always know the truth, in age appropriate ways. She knows that God values him as much as anyone else. That he wasn’t mentally, emotionally or spiritually well and needs healing. He made bad choices and is suffering the consequences of his actions. And, his behavior is not a reflection on her. You can’t really escape your child knowing about their father unless you lie.
MB: You have a very honest and open relationship with your daughter. Is there anything you haven’t told her that you dread her asking?
A: I haven’t told her the details of what happened with me and her father. But I don’t dread her asking me either. Whenever something good reminds me of him, I share it with her. She needs to understand love always believes the best in people.
MB: If your daughter wanted to meet her father in the future, would you support her in that decision?
A: It depends. If I had peace in my heart and knew she would be safe then yes, I would support her. There are some decisions kids are too young to make on their own. As her parent, I will exercise veto power.
MB: You were raised by a single mother since you were 13, do you think it made you grow up faster and what effect do you think it has on your own daughter?
A: I don’t know if my mom’s being a single parent made me grow up faster. Nor do I know if me being a single parent has caused my daughter to grow up faster either. But my daughter and I are often told we’re mature for our age. So maybe there’s a common denominator there. I’m not sure.
MB: Do you think not having a father during your teen years played a part in becoming involved with the man you did?
A: I think a woman’s relationship with her father influences the type of men she chooses to get involved with. I believe men and women can retrain themselves to line up with how God wants them to be attracted to the opposite sex. As I’ve continued walking with the Lord, my choices have certainly gotten better over the years! So there’s always hope.
MB: Do you fear that your daughter will repeat your mistakes?
A: I’ve been tempted to be afraid my daughter will make the same mistakes. But I’ve learned to quickly reform those thoughts with the truth. The truth is: I don’t have to worry about the future; I just have to trust God. Worrying is pointless.
MB: What has been the hardest part of being a single mom, and what has been the most rewarding?
A: Probably the hardest part about being a single mom is my daughter missing out on having a father. Daddies bring something different to the table that can’t be replaced by moms. Thankfully, God fills that gap. The most rewarding part of being a single mom is the special bond inevitably made with your child(ren).
MB: What do you want others to understand about being a single mom?
A: We’re not second-class citizens and we need people to reach out to us and our children more. Don’t be paranoid we’ll become co-dependent. We’re just grateful you care enough to put us before yourself.
This post is part of a world wide blogging tribute to Moms led by TheBlogFrog.