Before I came to stay at this Korean shelter, I had been at a place with a partner I had never imagined to be with for one and half years. A place called “home” is a place where I feel safe and I can be myself. My memories of what I called “home” only lasted for about a month after we had moved in together. I did not recognize the patterns of abuse until it was too late: mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially left me in disarray. I was incessantly trying to please my partner, constantly trying to maintain peace in the household. I quietly walked around the house like a mouse, staying in my room and only coming out if I needed to use the bathroom or to go into the kitchen, making sure meals were prepared before he came home from work, and leaving him alone while he ate his dinner with his television. There was no laughter or any kind of sharing. When we did go out together, I always felt I was going to be hurt by some “random acts of freak accidents”. Our disagreements led into arguments, then he became verbally and physically violent. Eventually, all communications came to a halt. The house became a place where I just slept, and I made sure to be awake while he went to sleep. I left the house and stayed away until he went into work, and I slept while he was at work. I just wanted to be left alone. I was too embarrassed to speak to anyone about my situation. I felt lonely like an island and worried where I was going to stay. I had no where to go but I knew I had to get out of this damaging relationship. I decided to completely relocate to another area, so I cannot be found by him and his collaborators. I was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted but I had to keep going. I searched online for a place to stay.

I did not want to be around certain people if I were to stay at a shelter. I wanted to be around Koreans and Christians. I thought about the time when I felt safe as a child, how I felt safe around strangers. My memories went back to Christian bible studies while I was an orphan in South Korea. So, I decided to research nonprofit shelters for Koreans in Orange county. I clicked on the Home On The Green Pastures, and I was able to reach out to Victoria. She was the only person I had reached to outside of the court house. I was at first unsure if my stay at the shelter would workout because my Korean is very limited.

When I arrived at the shelter, I met the shelter manager. She seemed so Korean, and I thought I was doomed because I barely understood her. Little did I realize her English was far greater than my ability to speak Korean. Then I met another Korean women around my age, and thankfully she was bilingual.

The three of us at the shelter learned each other’s ways. We listened, we cried, we laughed, and we mediated. I needed this. I needed to have a connection between like minded women, and I needed to get in touch with my roots. Most importantly, I realized my spiritual strength is the major building block I needed. I bowed down and humbly accepted the staff members’ graciousness. The bilingual woman became my friend. She caught onto my jokes quickly. It felt so good to laugh for once in a long time. I felt good to express how I felt and what I was thinking. Finally, finally someone understood me in every way. She was going through a similar situation. The members of the staff also understood what I was going through. I do not feel like an island or frightened at this time nor have I since my stay at the shelter. I finally feel free, safe, and myself, again…free spirited. This is truly me, and now I understand why my Mother named me.

Home On The Green Pastures; thank you for bringing out the best of me by providing a warm, healthy, clean, safe home. I hope your mission continues for ages to come.