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Survivor Story: Mikala (1980’s)

My name is Mikala. I am a survivor of domestic abuse. I was a resident at Rosenthal Family Lodge, starting in December 1988 at the age of 28. My children were six, three, and a set of sixteen-month-old twins.

Before coming to Family Rescue, I lived on the North Side with my abuser. One day, when we went to a food shelf, my abuser forced us to enter separately; he claimed one of my children and I claimed the other three. Once I started interacting with its staff, separated from him, I told them what was happening. They had me call a trusted neighbor to get my children ready to leave. Unbeknownst to my abuser, they took me to my apartment to pick them up, pack a small bag, and took us to Rosenthal Family Lodge.

By the grace of God, my family and I were able to stay there for five months. During that time, my children and I felt safe and cared for, not only by the staff, but also by some of the other residents. In fact, I have remained friends with another woman that resided at the same time to this very day.

During my stay, I was able to learn how to communicate with a diverse population and learn about different cultures. I learned that there were multiple kinds of abuse, not just physical, and that none of it was EVER my fault. The children’s counselors helped me understand that even though the school wanted to label one of my children as autistic, they were showing signs of experiencing trauma, not autism.

I was able to save some money and find an apartment in the neighborhood.

In 1991, my family and I moved to Minnesota. Since leaving Family Rescue, I have not been in any abusive relationships. I have been employed with the United States Postal Service for the past 24 years, with 22 of them being in management. I also work as a Direct Support Professional in a group home. I have been working with them for 14 years as well. It is my way of giving back to my community.

My children are all grown up now. I am a proud grandmother of 19 and a great-grandmother of four.

I rarely visit Chicago, so when I did so the past spring, I took a few of my grandkids to the old neighborhood, to show them where we lived and where their mothers went to school. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Rosenthal Family Lodge was still there. I knocked on the door and explained to them that I was a past resident from over 30 years ago. I wanted to express my gratitude for helping my family when we needed it most.

Thank you God and thank you Family Rescue, for helping me be better.