The Pen

By Karen
Illinois, USA

The Pen

In late September, 1997, I went to the Admission and Records Office of the college I had just graduated from. I needed to make sure all my credits were on my transcript. Juggling an 18-month-old baby, backpack, diaper bag, and purse, I realized that I didn’t have a pen to write down a phone number they gave me. I asked a woman passing by if she had one I could use. Little did I know how much asking this question would eventually help me. She loaned me the pen and we chatted briefly, then we went our separate ways.

A couple of hours later I went to a fast food restaurant in the Student Center for lunch because my son couldn’t wait to get home to eat. That same woman came up to me with her lunch and asked if she could sit down. And so I met my best friend.

In our many hours on the phone I learned that she had been a victim of domestic violence, but through hard work and determination had been able to make a clean break. While her current life was far from perfect, she had been free of abuse for several years. She was making positive progress in her life.

Hearing all this I broke down. The relationship I was in had been abusive for a couple of years and was rapidly deteriorating. My boyfriend had just been released from a two-week stay in a mental hospital for threatening to kill himself.

While there, he had been given powerful medications usually given to people with schizophrenia. But within a couple of weeks he had simply stopped taking his medication, and his behavior was getting very scary.

In January of 1998 I finally left him, after an 11 hour ordeal in which my boyfriend was hearing voices and threatening to kill me and our son. My friend took us in, and pointed me to a domestic violence shelter in the area that helped me to obtain an order of protection. (To legally prevent him from seeking to harm us through finding us.)

My friend never tried to rescue me, but was always there when I needed someone to help. Most importantly, she gave me an empathetic ear and emotional support, which kept me together enough to start rebuilding my life.

She let me know that I was worth the effort, that I did not deserve to be treated badly because of someone else’s problems. It hasn’t been an easy road — but I am grateful for every day my son and I spend free from abuse. I hate to think what could have happened to us if this wonderful woman had not loaned me a pen one day. I truly believe she saved our lives. Thank you Renee!

Originally published as HeroicStories #April 22 2002 on 298

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