‘I had nowhere to go’: Spokane woman reflects on the abuse that left her homeless

“I didn’t ever think I would be homeless and I didn’t think I would ever be beaten down the way I was, but it can happen fast.”

Once she was finally able to work up the strength to leave the man who abused her for five years, Tam* was left with no identity, no family and nowhere to turn — and sadly, she’s not alone.

A representative from Transitions, a local non-profit that works with women to find housing and employment, tells 4 News Now 90% of the women they work with have experienced domestic violence.

“They might get out, but with absolutely nothing,” said development director Sarah Lickfold. “When you experience that kind of trauma, you don’t know how you’re going to respond as a person and sometimes the response ends up in homelessness.”

Tam knows the pain that comes with abuse all too well. She was trapped in a haze of self-doubt for five years as the man who claimed he loved her staked a claim on her mind, body and soul.

“You don’t feel worthy, you don’t feel capable of taking care of yourself. You’ve been told that you’re nothing and you’re worthless,” said Tam. “I was always second-guessing myself and I believed that, because, you know, he would just beat these things into my head all day long.”

She was broken in every sense of the word.

“He had pushed me down, and he was a big man, and had just bounced on my neck and my head to the side to where it crushed four discs,” she remembers.

That’s when Tam reached her breaking point, leaving her “no choice but to start over.”

It seems simple, but in reality, she was left with nothing.

“I had nowhere to go,” said Tam. “I was locked into a situation and isolated from everyone and everything.”

Tam had to leave behind a job and a daughter she loved to save her life. The haze she had been trapped in for years faded away when her aunt told her about Spokane and all the resources waiting for her here. She hitched a ride with her estranged sister and started a new chapter when she found Transitions.

“You can’t get this kind of help back where I was from,” she said. “Once you finally stop and get help, you’re no longer a victim. You take your power back.”

Tam found that power through counseling and permanent housing, made possible by her time at Transitions, which spanned nine months.

While she still deals with the physical reminders of her abuse in the form of neck and knee problems, she’s reunited with the daughter she had to leave behind and now, she can see what lies ahead. Her future is clear — and it’s bright.

“It kind of feels like you just stepped out of a tornado,” she said. “I’m not running scared. I actually experience joy today… There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

RELATED: End the Violence: Local mother reclaims her life

*Name has been changed to protect the survivor’s identity.