Austin (KXAN) - Brenda Larcom dreamed of marrying a wonderful man, having children and living happily ever after.
"I got married thinking oh this is going to be great! We're going to have kids," said Brenda Larcom. "I'm going to be able to be a stay at home mom and not work, and he's going to provide for me, but that never happened."
Brenda's dream soon turned into a nightmare. Her husband started controlling her every move. Then the verbal and physical abuse started.
"The first time he put his hands on me I was eight months pregnant with our first child, and he shoved me down," said Larcom. "One night he came home and I didn't cook dinner the correct way. He got upset at me and threw... you know the dinner was in pots and pans .. he threw it all across the house."
Even something as simple as going to the grocery store became scary. He would question why she stayed at the store so long and ask when exactly she would come home. His controlling behavior touched every aspect of her life.
Over a three year period, Brenda hid her secret from everyone, even her family. She wanted her children to have a mom and a dad so badly, she put up with his constant abuse. One time he even put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger, but the bullets jammed. Somehow she just learned to accept it all.
"When somebody tells you that everyday of your life, you begin to believe that is what life is supposed to be like for you and that that is where you should be," said Larcom.
Her thoughts about her place in life changed when she witnessed her husband abusing one of their children. She knew it was time to get help.
"When it comes to your children you do not care if you get hurt," said Larcom. "You become ten feet tall and bullet-proof. You can hurt me. You can do whatever you want to me. I don't care, but you are not going to put your hands on my son. You are not!"
Brenda was led to the Texas Advocacy Project that provided her free legal services. The work the statewide nonprofit did for her and her children ultimately got her a protective order and divorce. Her abuser is serving two life sentences in prison.
Brenda's life now
Life is good for Brenda now. She has remarried.
"I would have to say he's my soul mate," said Larcom. "I love him to death."
She and her husband Glenn have had two children. They are now brother and sister to the two children Brenda has been raising all this time. The Texas Advocacy Project is helping Glenn through the legal work of becoming the adoptive father of her first two children. Brenda owns her own day care in Pflugerville and now goes to the grocery store any time she wants and stays as long as she wants without any fear. Her dream of having a happy family is finally hers.
Handbags for Hope
The Texas Advocacy Project and the Travis County Sheriff's Department partner to get hope in the hands of domestic abuse victims. The campaign is called Handbags For Hope, and it literally offers life changing hope inside a handbag.
Each handbag has the group's hotline number sewn inside. The purses are given to women's shelters in Texas so domestic violence victims have the number when they need it. When they call the hotline, the Texas Advocacy Project offers free legal services like help with protective orders and divorces.
"What we are able to do is very specific and that is provide the legal services, said Director of Development and Communications for the Texas Advocacy Project Heather Bellino. "It's getting that protective order at the moment that victim needs it most so that person can't come back... can't come near them… can't harm them again. If they do, they can finally be arrested."
The Texas Advocacy Project's hotline number is 1-800-374-hope. You may drop off new of gently used handbags at Travis County Sheriff offices through March 18, 2013.
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