Anastasia finally decided to leave in April 2010. That is when she first began drawing that line, the strength of which only grew as time went on.

“If I had asked for help a long time ago, I wouldn’t have suffered through so much, through the amount of pain I lived through, seeing my children suffer especially,” Anastasia said. “Seeing your children suffer is a pain so great, so immense, that I would not wish that on anyone.”

Together, Anastasia and her three children moved into a shelter where they remained for over a year. According to Anastasia, they had to stay there for so long because she could not afford a place on her own, especially not while child support, divorce and custody proceedings were tied up in court.

“There, thank God, they helped us a lot,” Anastasia said. “We have always had people helping us out along the way, that’s what helped us move forward and get through everything.”

According to Anastasia, the camaraderie she experienced at the shelter helped her start rebuilding her life. In the single, small room she shared with her three children, she was able to reconnect with them, forging a relationship based in love, which flourished because of peace. That peace, Anastasia said, was crucial in their growth as a family. It is something she said every family should have, but one that few people realize the value of.

“The majority of the women that I know here, and I’ve been living here for 16 years, so I have a fair amount of acquaintances, the majority of the women live like I did, suffering, enduring bad treatment, living with someone who treats them badly,” Anastasia said.