Linda, daughter, mission staff
Linda, 6 Kids, Escape Abusive Household to Start Fresh at the Mission

Linda, 34, came to the United States from the Philippines with her Dad when she was 16. They settled in Northern California where Linda finished high school and then started college. But when her dad and her stepmom found out she had a boyfriend, problems arose in the house. “They wanted me to focus on school,” said Linda, who was 20 at the time. “We got into a fight about it, and my stepmom started hitting me. My dad didn’t intervene. He just said, ‘Stop,’ but she didn’t until I couldn’t breathe.”

The next day, Linda left a note on her bed. She would be leaving the house and moving to Los Angeles with her boyfriend. “My boyfriend was already abusive to me, and he was already controlling,” Linda said. “But I felt like I didn’t have anybody. I felt alone. I stayed with him for 12 years. We had six kids.”

Linda worked as a caregiver, 12 hours a day, six days a week. She became more and more isolated from family and friends. Finally, last year, Linda went to the doctor. “I felt worried about myself,” she said. “I had these thoughts that I wanted to die. I didn’t want to commit suicide, but my brain was thinking that way.” Soon after, a social worker came to their house, and interviewed the kids at school. “That’s when the kids said their dad was abusive to them when I wasn’t home. I didn’t know.”

The couple was also tested for drugs, and while Linda was clean, the children’s father tested positive for meth. He was removed from the home, but in court, Linda was told she would need to go to a shelter if she wanted to keep her kids, to ensure their safety. After some time in a domestic violence shelter, and then a motel, Linda and her six children moved into the mission. “After 12 years, I think I finally realized that I’ve done a lot of things for him, and he’s appreciated nothing,” she said. “I feel relieved. I feel like I have more freedom.”

Linda has a restraining order against her children’s father, but he is allowed monitored visits with his children, who are 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, and 4 years old. They are all in therapy. “I’m just so proud of my kids,” Linda said, beaming. “They are doing excellent in school. They’ve been consistent since we’ve got out of the house. And they used to be more physically rough with each other—they would portray what they saw in the house. That is changing.”

Linda’s dad returned to the Philippines seven years ago and reunited with her mom. “They didn’t know about anything until I got here,” she said. “I kept everything to myself since it started. I was ashamed because of what happened, because I know they are expecting me to have a good life. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t open up to them.”

Now, Linda’s parents are checking on her every week, and Linda is hoping her mom will be able to join her in the U.S. She’s grateful to the mission for helping her get back on her feet. “Everyone is so nice here—I can’t say anything but good things. They gave me extra time to find housing and have really helped us a lot.”