This is Craine House and it’s a very special place. The women who live there know that and feel very lucky.
Dannielle’s childhood was not easy. Her mother was sixteen years old and preferred partying with friends rather than watching her daughter. Dannielle was often passed around between sitters and grandparents’ homes with no stability, routine, or even knowledge that her mother would come back for her. She was exposed to drugs at an early age and with no role model to dissuade her, it wasn’t long before Dannielle began using to numb the pain she felt from a life she had no control over. Dannielle knew she wanted a better and happier life; however, this was the only way of living she knew so she continued down the path of criminal behavior. A few years later, Dannielle was convicted for possession of drugs and was sent to Craine House after the Judge heard her plea for a fresh start.
Arriving at Craine House while three months pregnant, Danielle welcomed the opportunity of a brighter future for her and her unborn child with open arms. With the support of Craine House over the next ten months, Dannielle worked hard to earn the tools and knowledge she needed to leave the cycle of generational criminal behavior behind her. She obtained her high school diploma, secured employment, and participated in addiction recovery programs that helped her stay drug free. She also gave birth to a healthy baby girl and learned valuable skills through the parenting classes at Craine House so that her daughter could have the role model that Dannielle never had. Today, Danielle proudly works at a job she loves and, after one year, is training for her promotion to store manager. She and her daughter live happily in their apartment and look forward to the opportunities that are in store for them.
Dannielle didn’t choose to be born into a life of criminal behavior, but she did choose to leave it. Because of the support and encouragement she received from the Craine House staff, Dannielle was empowered to achieve her goals and transform the lives of her and her daughter.
Sandy was a single mom serving the last several months of her court-ordered sentence at Craine House. Her five older children were in either foster care or living with other family members. Through her tears, she told her story about how she ended up in prison and why she was so grateful to be given a second chance through Craine House.
“My boyfriend (the kid’s Dad) and I lived with the children in a house in northwestern Indiana near the Chicago area. He earned a ‘living’ by selling drugs. He was physically and verbally abusive, but with five kids, I didn’t know what else to do. So, I put up with it and we, at least had food on the table and a place to sleep.”
“Finally, the law caught up with him and he was put in prison. I had five kids and no job, no job skills and no family support… I didn’t know what to do. So, I sold drugs – I had all the contacts from my partner. It was a quick way to get food for the table and rent money for the house.”
“Then, I got caught and sent to prison for 5 years for dealing in drugs. My children were placed with other family members or in foster care. It was a horrible and lonely experience and because I was jailed in the Indianapolis area, my children only came once or twice a year to visit. My two oldest children finally decided not to visit at all – we became estranged and didn’t communicate at all.”
“During the last year of my sentence, I was approached about the opportunity to participate in Craine House – it sounded too good to be true, but I thought I would try it. It has been such a blessing. My children can visit me any time on the weekends, my older daughters are finally seeing me again and I will not EVER do drugs or deal drugs again! With the help of counselors at Craine House I was able to get two part-time jobs in food service. I’ve been doing a good job so they will give me references. I am scared of leaving Craine House and being on my own again, but I know I can do it.”
When I first started therapy over a year ago, I was your typical client. I came in so broken and was afraid to trust anyone, let alone believe that someone actually cared about me as a person and wanted to help me. I didn’t need therapy, I can figure my own problems out, these people just want to tell me how to live my life, or most importantly this had to be a set-up as a way to inform Craine House what I was doing. These are all the thoughts that ran through my mind when I started this process. Still skeptical for the next few months but, I started to listen to more of what was being taught to me.
My story is a little different than most. When I came to Craine House I had everything I’ve ever loved and cared about ripped away from me. I lost my children, my fiancé, my family, my home, and my dignity. I was in a Domestic Violence relationship which was normal for me because I grew up that way. I was in denial and unwilling to admit that my fiancé could be an abuser. I told myself that I deserved to be hit because I was being mouthy or I pushed him too far. He always had a way of making me feel like everything was my fault. Even though he was the one that did something wrong, I was the one that caused him to react the way he did.
My therapist Alicia tried to teach me what Domestic Violence is and all the different types of abusers. I thought...my fiancé he’s not an abuser, they just don’t know him. He is such a good provider and works so hard to make sure we had everything we needed. They are all wrong about him; he just hit me a few times so he’s not really an abuser.
During that time I started working on things from my past that still affect me. I was learning and starting to heal in some areas that have hurt me in my life. I was learning more information from Alicia and was starting to consider that my fiancé might be an abuser. Not only did he abuse me, he broke over a dozen bones in my 3 year old son’s body. Since I never seen him do it, I believed all of the lies that he told me. I was in complete denial. The more time that I spent with Alicia the more I opened up. I was learning a lot and was becoming more aware of my situation. I had to do some classes to get my youngest son back. When I did get him back I tried to cut off contact with my fiancé and did a good job for a while but eventually gave into him and let him call me from prison. In the time I spent not talking to him I got use to the idea that I am a domestic violence victim, and that my sons and I were better off without him.
After talking to him again, it didn’t take long for all of those feelings to come back, but I proceeded with caution and stuck up for myself. I didn’t deserve to be hit and I made sure that he knew that. After that came all the apologies from him and guilt I felt by not trusting him and not staying by his side, but that’s what he put in my head over and over again.
The phone calls were caught by CPS and they came and took my son. If it wasn’t for Alicia and her staying by my side helping me through this I would have given up. I had no will left in me, I had been defeated. She saved my life because at that point I have nothing else to live for. I failed as a mother again; I thought my kids were better off without me. Alicia answered all my calls day and night and really carried me through this whole process because I was just going through the motions. I had no idea what was going on around me. She never sugarcoated anything for me, she told me I messed up. Most importantly she didn’t give up on me because I made a mistake. She stayed right by my side and helped me get through it. She believed in me and that’s all I needed was to have someone to believe in me. CPS taking my son from me ended up being the best thing that has happened in my life. I realized the seriousness of my relationship with my fiancé and how harmful it really was for my children and me. I saw everything clearly for the first time, like the lens had been removed off of my eyes. The pain that I endured when they took my son was the most gut wrenching thing I have ever experienced. I lost both of my parents at age 13 and even that didn’t compare to the pain I felt having my son taken from me. It was the pain that woke me up.
After I realized that my ex-fiancé was an abuser and he was just playing mind games with me to keep me where he wanted me, I figured it all out. All the things Alicia had been teaching me this whole time became crystal clear and at that point I became unstoppable. I got a good job and knew I could make it on my own, I didn’t need him anymore. See all of this time I thought I needed him or I couldn’t make it. I told my story to a group of 70 men and admitted for the first time that I am a Domestic Violence victim. When I did that I felt as if I broke out of my shell that I’ve been hiding behind for so long. I am empowered and ready to take on the world and I did just that. I got a permanent position at my job, a nice home for my son and me to live in. I DID IT, I made it on my own, the biggest fear I’ve lived with my whole life and I conquered it. Now my confidence is through the roof and there is no stopping me.
I did get my son back 60 days after they took him and we’ve both been pushing forward ever since. I don’t need anyone to depend on, I depend on myself now. That has been the most rewarding thing of all.
So I’ve explained my success story and I hope it helps someone else that may be in a similar situation I was in but at the end of the day all of my credit goes to my therapist Alicia. She is the most amazing, kind-hearted, caring person I have met in my life. She doesn’t just get up every morning and come to work because that is her job. She is so passionate about her job and cares about helping each and every person she comes into contact with. Which to me it’s the most amazing gift to have because you have people like me that don’t think they have a problem. It would be hard because she has to watch me figure out and find my way. All she could do was provide me with the knowledge, help me figure things out and hope I get it. It takes a lot of hard work and compassion to do the job she does. Craine House lucked out when they found her because she is definitely sent from above. I think the thing that brought me to trust her more was the she never one time judged me or made me feel stupid for the choices I made. She understood, she explained to me what I was going though was normal and all part of the process. It is hard to find people like her in the world, being in Work Release and having that bad aura over you makes it hard for us to feel normal or good about ourselves. Alicia was my breath of fresh air, my inspiration, my hope when I didn’t have any, and the undiscovered hero who helped me find myself again. It hurts my heart to think that all the help and support she gives to people is barely recognized. She is changing and saving lives, that to me is the most admirable thing a person could do. I could never repay her for everything she’s helped open up inside of me and how much healing I’ve done since I met her. I respect her so much as a person and know God is proud of his Angel!