When Lakish came to Newhouse, she found therapy and words that would help change her life. Watching her mother being beaten and seeing her brothers and sisters getting themselves in unhealthy situations, she had been determined to have a different life. Her relationship with Junior seemed okay at first, but things changed when he hit her in front of her four-year-old daughter. DeDe jumped on Junior’s back and said, “Get off my mommy.” Gradually Junior became more abusive over their nine-year relationship. But Lakish felt her situation was not as bad as other women’s. One night when 12-year-old DeDe jumped on Junior, cracked him in the head with a coffee mug and, proud of herself, asked, “Did I do good, Mommy?,” Lakish flashbacked to the first time Junior hit her in front of DeDe. She experienced images of her own childhood and realized she didn’t want her mom and dad’s relationship. She knew it was time to get help.
Newhouse felt like home. Right from the time they arrived, assistance and resources were available. The advocates were supportive, giving out basic supplies and “didn’t make me feel stupid.” Lakish sees the therapy she received as life changing. “I knew all these things were going on, but I didn’t know what to call them or what to do about them. It was all confused in my head. Miss Mary P gave me the words to use to make sense so I could change. I use the word co-dependent a lot now.” Lakish had already been doing many things right: she had gotten her GED, had been able to keep DeDe in the same excellent charter school since kindergarten and had begun the process of getting approved for housing. “I thought I was a pretty good mother and didn’t need any parenting help, but I was wrong. Miss Jennifer is a children’s therapist, so she helped DeDe, but she also helped me.” In classes and therapy sessions, Lakish learned how DeDe had been impacted by the violence, just as she herself had been as a child. She now talks about how she will “break the cycle of domestic abuse.” With the help of case managers cutting though the stalled application process, Lakish and DeDe are now in a newly converted downtown apartment in a safe area with access to transportation. “I now know how to say ‘no’ and not be a scapegoat for others. At 40, I am a better person.”