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From trauma to triumph: Hannah Booker’s Story

Red flags. So many red flags. I saw them but chose to ignore them. He studied me like a book and learned my likes, dislikes and traumas. He then used that information to create the person I believed was my soulmate. He was “saving me” from an already bad place and blinding me with his narcissism. 

He was controlling from the start. He kept me from my family, friends and work. He convinced me that he was the only one who truly cared. Two years into our relationship, he relapsed on meth and pills. At this time, I knew nothing about drugs, but it wasn’t long before I was addicted, too. The abuse got extremely bad after that. He had me right where he wanted me, completely vulnerable to him. 

The emotional, physical, and mental abuse would go on for years. My kids witnessed a ton of abuse. My oldest son saw things that no child should have to see. The cycle of leaving, doing well, letting him back in my head then returning to the same situation constantly repeated itself. Because of the abuse and drug use, the state Department of Human Services got involved and took our three kids. 

DHS insisted I attend rehab. I chose a free 90-day, faith-based program — twice in one year. After I graduated the second time, I decided I was done with him. I chose my kids. I got a job, a house and did what was required to gain custody back. Two weeks before I was to get my kids, I went to pick him up from rehab. Once again, I was blinded by his narcissism. I thought he had changed. I wanted a family again. I let him back in. We were using again within days, and he was beating me worse than ever before.

I am a survivor! I have been given the opportunity to use my story to give back to what’s been given to me. I give all the glory to my God…

At my lowest, I was homeless, and my rights to my kids were terminated. I was getting beaten beyond recognition daily and had track marks all over my arms. I wanted to die. I prayed to God to save me. I could not do it by myself. Within hours of my prayer, my ex-husband beat me in public, and someone called the cops. He was arrested, and I was sent to the Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence. That event changed my life. 

I had a change of heart after three days. I woke up and accepted my reality. I finally had resources available to me. I took every class the Center had. I took life skills and parenting classes and participated in individual and group therapy sessions. I soaked it all in. I chose to change my mindset. I got rid of all my limiting beliefs and started acting as if I were already the person I wanted to be. The Center believed in me, and so I believed in myself. They saved me. 

After three months of living there, I moved into an apartment, started getting my kids every other weekend and took classes to become a certified peer support specialist. I am now two years clean and sober. I work at a drug and alcohol treatment center, where I help people just like me overcome addictions and past traumas. I live in Ocean Springs with my three children, and we are flourishing. I am a survivor! I have been given the opportunity to use my story to give back to what’s been given to me. I give all the glory to my God, and I am beyond thankful for the Center. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence issues, reach out to the Center. When you’re ready, your life can change. Take advantage of their therapy, take all the classes, open up, set goals and fight to keep going. Life gets better — and YOU deserve better 

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