Anastasia

Enough is enough,” she said, as she brought her small, clenched fist down onto the checkered tablecloth. “This is it, this stops here,” she added, as she extended out a finger and drew a line across the cloth, parallel to the blue stitching.

She sat there for a minute, staring at the imaginary line she had drawn, an imaginary representation of the boundary she had created between her past and her future. An imaginary line she clung to, one that protected her from the abuse she and her children had endured for 14 years at the hands of her now ex-husband.

Her name is Anastasia, Ana for short. She will always live in the shadow of a statistic, as part of the one in four women who has experienced domestic violence during their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Anastasia, however, must carry another burden, another ball and chain that complicated her situation, trapping her in the hands of her abuser. She is also among the estimated 185,000 undocumented immigrants in the state of Alabama. Anastasia, an Alabama resident of 16 years, said her immigration status made reaching out for help that much more difficult.

‘“You are here illegally,’ he’d yell at me. ‘You think they’ll help you out?”’ They won’t,’ he’d warn, except with dirty words in harsh tones. It leaves you questioning whether or not to ask for help, whether or not to risk being discovered, what to do.”