Written by Erika Anonymous for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.
My name is Erika. I came to the United States with my parents when I was six years old and I have been here ever since.
I have lived in fear for most of my life because of my ex-husband. We met as high school freshmen in Chicago. Our relationship was rocky from the beginning and he became more controlling and possessive over the years. But when he joined the Marines after high school, things seemed to change for a while. He apologized for the way he acted and promised to treat me with respect.
After we got married, he became worse than ever. He came home drunk and assaulted me. He would lock me in the house all day when he was at work, even though I was caring for our infant son. When he would come home, he would bring many friends and drink all night. When I told him he needed to stop drinking or I would leave, he shoved me against a wall and swung to punch me. I ducked, so he hit wall instead. When he was deployed to Iraq, he was supposed to put money into a bank account for our family, but he put most of his money in a separate account and left me without access to it. Even though he was making money, because I was undocumented, I was unable to earn money to feed my children and I had to ask my parents to buy us food. After he returned from Iraq, he began having relationships with other women, sometimes in front of me. Eventually, I reached out for help and I left.
I would have lived in fear my whole life without protection under the Violence Against Women Act. I now have lawful status and a job as an office manager. I can do anything now.