SURVIVOR—Lauren reflects on her abusive past that turned her into a survivor. (Photo courtesy of Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh)

For 10 years, everyday was a fight for Lauren’s life. It all began at the age of 18 when she began dating her now ex-boyfriend and the father of her child.

Little things would trigger changes in his mood. At first he was shoving, then he escalated to choking and trying different maneuvers to get her to pass out, but never punching or anything that would leave marks. She experienced trips to different emergency rooms or urgent care facilities after the fact, but it was one incident in 2011 that was her wake-up call.

It was in March 2011, in the early hours of the morning, when an altercation broke out. He dragged Lauren face-first down 12 wooden steps, to the sliding glass doors leading to the deck they were in the process of installing. He pushed her out the door and off the deck; she fell 7 feet. She tried calling 911, but lost the call due to a weak signal. She finally was able to reach her friend who called 911. She ended up in the emergency room with a sprained neck, but no broken bones. She knew then that she “had to get out,” for her and her daughter.

Lauren went into survival mode, after years of being at home, she went back to work full-time, started saving money, reached out to a friend, got an apartment and moved out, leaving everything behind. More than a year later, she began dating someone. In November 2012, in the early morning of Thanksgiving Day, Lauren had come home from an outing with her boyfriend to grab a bag for her daughter, who was at Lauren’s mother’s house. They had planned to introduce their children and spend the day with their families. As she was coming from inside, she heard a commotion and saw a man on top of her boyfriend, fighting him; realizing it was her ex-boyfriend, she pulled him off of her boyfriend.  Her ex then grabbed a gun from his ankle and pointed it at her, then her boyfriend. He then cocked the gun, and focused on her boyfriend. Although it seemed like forever, but was only minutes later, the police arrived. No one was shot and her ex-boyfriend was arrested.

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