18 years old, pregnant and homeless

What many people see when they look at me and my family today is ‘picture perfect’. I am often complimented on having four smart and hilarious little boys with a devoted husband. The funny thing is that a large part of these people didn’t know me ten years ago. That was intentional. I made it a point to put that life behind me and it has actually served me well. Ten years ago, I was an 18-yr old kid barely out of high school, homeless and pregnant.

I moved to Atlanta from Philadelphia when I was 15 in 2002, leaving behind my step-father, three brothers and my sister. My mom was going through a separation and circumstances lead her to only bring me to get away and figure out her next move. I was both devastated and excited. I always wanted to visit Atlanta, where my aunt (my mom’s twin) lived. However, the way it happened caused me to leave behind childhood friends and my own siblings.

My mom left an awesome job in Philadelphia as a Kitchen Director for a renowned senior citizens home. The residents loved her and I loved coming to visit her at work. When we arrived in Atlanta, I was immediately enrolled in the local high school and we lived with my aunt for several months. While I tried to adapt to this suburban high school, my mom worked crappy job after job in order for us to get a place of our own.

Several months later, we finally got our own apartment. My mom worked at night and was sleep during the day, so I had a LOT of freedom. As a teenager, I became somewhat of a socialite and always had people around me and it felt awesome. When my mom would go away up to a week at a time for work, I would have parties at our house — lots of sex, drugs and alcohol. When I was 17, I met a guy, 24, who was very intriguing simply for the fact that he had his own place, a job, and a car. We quickly became involved and he seemed to have really loved me – he even got a tattoo of my name prominently displayed on his chest!

By this time, my mom had grown tired of me acting like a grown up and kicked me out. I had just finished up my last year of high school and had no other choice than to move in with my boyfriend. Within a month I was pregnant. He was ecstatic because, as I mentioned, he really “loved” me. Then, we had an argument one night and he became abusive. He never actually “hit” me, but he pushed, dragged and tossed me like a rag doll – yes, while I was pregnant. I was terrified and called my estranged father. He bought me a ticket for the first flight back to Philadelphia.

My father didn’t know I was pregnant at the time. No one knew except for my ex-boyfriend who had called me incessantly since the moment I left leaving apologies on my voicemail. It became increasingly difficult to hide my pregnancy and I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. I was too young to get an abortion without adult consent – yes, I most definitely did consider it. When I was about three months pregnant and seemingly out of options, I decided to answer a call from my ex. He apologized repetitively, promised we would be a family and everything would be OK.

I returned to Atlanta. My boyfriend was very excited about starting this family, but also very worried about how to provide on his minimum wage job – as was I. He did something that landed him in jail for ten+ years and me on the street. There I was 18 years old, pregnant and homeless. I finally reached out to my mother and told her I was pregnant and needed help (leaving out the abuse part). I was surprised that she wasn’t more upset with me — perhaps she missed me or maybe even felt partly responsible, either way I was glad to have her back in my life.

She got me a job at the restaurant she was managing at the time. When we weren’t working, we were preparing for the baby — decorating the nursery, attending lamaze and parenting classes, and just hanging out. I had never felt closer to her at any point in my life. When my son was born, it was the most amazing experience ever! I wasn’t terrified or clueless as many would think. Sure, I was exhausted and frustrated at times, but the motherhood part seemed to have come naturally. I was beginning to see a bright future for me and my son until disaster struck again.

My mother lost her job. While she searched for a new job, we survived off of my government assistance. We weren’t able to pay rent and was inevitably evicted. My aunt agreed to take in my mom until she got back on her feet, but did not have the space and/or tolerance for me and my 3-month old baby. So, I bounced around, staying with friends and struggling to find a job. Then, I came across a transitional housing program for young, single mothers. They set us up in an apartment with another teen mom and her daughter. I was required to look for a job and/or attend school, learn to take care of my son on my own, and attend church.

This was the beginning of the rest of my life! After about 6 months of me being apart of this program, with very little notice, the program had to shut down due to a lack of funding. Thankfully, I had a job and decided to lease a townhome with one of the other girls from the program. I finally felt like I had a grip on life and vowed to make decisions that would never land me or my son in the mercy of others. It wasn’t easy, I still struggled, but I was determined and never gave up because my son needed me.

I married an amazing God-fearing man at the age of 22 and we now have four beautiful children. However, there were many dark times in my life where I just wanted to end it all. I often had no one to turn to but God and as you can see that was enough. I made a lot of terrible decisions, but I’m grateful for these experiences for they have made me the woman I am today. As you can imagine, my past experiences was very hard to put into words and even harder to share. My hope in sharing my story is to encourage a parent that is struggling to never give up and to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Photo by Wise Photos

16 replies on “18 years old, pregnant and homeless

  • Lynda Whitfield

    Hi Dom I don’t know if you remember me from high school, Tracy friend, but I loved the fact you shared your story. I also been through a similiar situation with abuse from my children’s father but that’s in the past now. And it’s awesome to hear to turned and trusted in God that makes my soul happy, I just got baptized today so excited, but continue to tell your story in hopes of helping others.

    Reply
    • dominque

      Of course I remember you! I am so sorry to hear about your past. Thank YOU for sharing a part of your story and congratulations on your baptism!!! This is truly the beginning of the rest of your life. I honestly fest like an anomaly, so I’m thrilled that this resonated with you. I initially wrote this with the idea of serving others, but hearing from you and a few others makes my soul happy as well! God is amazing.

      Reply
  • krystal

    Yes I’m going Thur something like this right now. Me & son are going to a shelter tonight. I will not give up its a long road but I have to keep pushing for my son. Yes you gave me courage to walk in this place with my head held high

    Reply
    • dominque

      Krystal, this makes my heart heavy and happy at the same time. I commend you for leaving. There is no doubt that it will be a struggle, but I am sooooo proud of you! I will lift you up in my prayers until I hear a praise report. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you just need to talk. XOXO

      Reply
    • Nisa

      Krystal,
      And do walk in, hold your head high, shoulders back and know that you’re somebody. The best of us have some rough, dark, patches. Its temporary, if you make it so. My sister went through some rough stuff behind an abusive ex when she was pregnant with my (now 17 year old) niece. Your success and your son’s needs are on you, and you can do it.

      Reply
  • Leporscha

    This was wonderfully written, it brought tears to my eyes because I myself have experienced this also but the relationship became abusive. It feels good to know someone can relate to my struggle
    Thank you

    Reply
    • dominque

      Amazing! Thank you for sharing that. I was so nervous writing this because I felt like an anomaly amongst my friends and family. I felt like I would be judged for going back to him. I’m also so happy to know that som many others, like yourself, had similar experiences.

      Reply
  • Tiani

    Dude, you are amazing for sharing your testimony! This was so beautifully written. And while your struggles are unique to you, there are so many other women that struggle with things similar. God bless you for your transparency.

    Reply
    • dominque

      Thank you! You are so right. So many people have opinions on what they would have done, but you never know until it’s happened to you.

      Reply
  • Nisa

    Keep writing and doing what you do. Your heart, authenticity and class come across in every picture, blog post and tee. I’m so glad I stumbled across your page on Instagram.

    Reply
    • dominque

      I am so glad that I didn’t succumb to my fear of publishing this. I’m actually looking forward to sharing my life with you all.

      Reply
    • dominque

      Yes, I remember! It is so amazing to reflect on our past and truly be thankful for the women that we’ve become. 🙂

      Reply

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