Mom struggles with son’s autism, memories of trauma from domestic abuse | Opinion


Editor’s note: This is one in a series of guest columns by Wichita-area residents to tell their stories, in their words, spotlighting barriers that deter full participation in the life of the community. Funding for Unheard Voices has been provided by the American Press Institute through its Civic Discourse and Community Voices Fund.

My name is Verónica Rendón; I am 46 years old, I am Mexican.

I have four sisters and three brothers, my mother is still alive, and my father died eight years ago from bone cancer.

When I was 19 years old, I got married in the church; he was five years older than me, from the United States, and went to Mexico for a month.

We met, and after a month of getting to know each other, he asked me to get married and we got married in February.

After a week of marriage, he came to the United States, and I came on May 31, 1997, with a tourist visa. He got into trouble when he was crossing the border, and they put him in jail for nine months. I came to live with my in-laws.

One year later I had a girl who was the light of my eyes. But then, I suffered from domestic violence. I had no close family and no one to trust. I didn’t know English. I never said anything to my family so as not to worry them because they were very far away.

After six years I got pregnant and lost my baby when I was three months pregnant.

One year later I got pregnant and had my son. I am proud of him right now. He is in the Navy.

I lasted 17 years in that marriage. I worked two jobs, in a store and a gas station, because my husband didn’t work.

When my son was five years old, my husband hit me so much that I couldn’t recognize myself in the mirror. I almost lost my job at the store because I was absent for a few days. My manager convinced me to leave the house and go to a place that helps women from domestic violence.

Two weeks after I left, I returned for my children. My husband said he was going to change, but that was not the case; things were worse, and so time passed. When my son was seven years old, I spoke to the police, and they only detained my husband for 24 hours.

We were in the car sleeping until I could rent an apartment for the week. I had to leave that apartment because my son was allergic to cats and dogs, and a woman with cats had lived there for ten years.

At that time, I felt like I was taking two steps forward and five steps back.

The doctor told me that if I wanted my child to be well, I had to get out of that apartment. And I didn’t know I was pregnant, so I went back to my husband again, and then I spoke to the police.

He had such a sweet way of treating them, and the police thought I was crazy. And since the children didn’t say anything out of fear, they believed him.

Once, he said I had postpartum depression, and my daughter was already eight months old. When the police left, it was an older man and a young female officer. I told them that he was the one who was telling lie. A week after that incident, he grabbed me by the neck, and I could not breathe.

My daughter, the eldest, heard a noise and came out to the kitchen and saw that he had me by the neck.

She fell on her knees and begged for my life. I don’t know how he managed to hear. His voice was crazy, and he told me to thank my daughter for my life because if it weren’t for her, I would already be dead.

After that day, I felt like a blindfold was falling from my eyes. I had to live for my children and no one else.

I spoke to the police and begged them to pay attention to me, that I was in danger. That time my daughter spoke and told the truth. They took me to a home for women from domestic violence and we stayed there three months.

I never stopped working, they helped me become a citizen and they helped me to get an apartment.

I had to work three jobs to be able to get ahead. We struggled a lot and my husband kept bothering me.

I had to go to court to put a restriction so that he wouldn’t get close to us.

I filed for my divorce and one year later, I met the man who is my husband today. After a year of knowing him, I gave him my phone number, but I was very afraid.

Today we have been married for eight years and we have a child.

He has autism. It was so difficult because I didn’t know what autism was, I only worked part time, but I had to stop working to be able to help my son. My husband always supports me and loves all my children very much. They say that he who raises is more of a father than the one who engenders.

Today, I would like to finish my education so I can work in a place where they help children with disabilities and be able to help my children, plus the one who has autism and my daughter who has ADHD.

My oldest daughter finished university, she studied animal sciences.

My son is in the Navy, he is married and has a 2-year-old child, he is a responsible and loving man.

My younger daughter is 11 years old, she has ADHD, she has concentration problems.

I am learning to be able to help her and my son, almost seven years old, who has autism and global development disorder.

I thank God and many people who helped me.

Less than one year ago, I started the International Rescue Committee’s community connections program to have guidance and support.

I was having trouble finding help for my son with autism and for my daughter with ADHD.

They recommended me to Adriana Nava, a family services coordinator. She helped me find a therapist for my children and advocate for me and my children at their school, and to find help with individual plans that will adapt to the needs of each of my children.

Women like Adriana make a difference in each of the families. She is an intelligent woman who listens, does not judge, and is one of the workers who knows how to listen and understand people.

Women like her make a difference.

As a woman, you must have the willpower to go out, and if there is a lot of fear, many people who are not in that position are the ones who judge.

But the chain must be cut so that the same thing does not continue.

I was lucky to escape that situation, but many women have not achieved it. But there is a lot of help outside, and you can get ahead.

This article was republished here with the permission of: The Wichita Eagle