Mom and Her 4 Kids Were Stuck in an Abusive Situation – So She Built Her Own House Using YouTube to Escape
This mother of four is proof that women are amazing.
Situations of abuse are complicated and nuanced, and there are many reasons why women choose to stay. Often women are scared to leave because they aren’t sure where they will go or who they can turn to, and they’re terrified of what comes next.
Now, one woman who survived such an experience has a very powerful message: you can persevere. And she’s proof.
A Dark Situation
About a decade ago, Cara Brookins felt trapped. For a short period of time, she was married to a man that, she told CBS News, “Descended into full-blown paranoid schizophrenia.” They divorced, but he still came around and scared the family.
Brookins remarried, believing the man she committed to was strong enough to handle her past. “But I was wrong, and he turned out to be a very violent man,” she revealed.
At the time, Brookins’ children were 17, 15, 11 and 2. She didn’t have enough money to afford a house for all of them, but she knew she needed out of her current situation.
“Eventually, I realized there was no way that I could ever make this situation better. It was the realization that maybe if the kids and I are out of here, then we have a shot,” she recalled.
A Clean Break
Brookins moved herself and her kids into a safe space: a tiny home outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. That’s when she came to a realization: there was a way to secure a home large enough for her and her four kids.
“I had rented this cabin for a Thanksgiving getaway. Driving there, we passed this house that had been ravaged by a tornado. It was this beautiful dream house, and it was sort of wide open,” she recalled to the outlet.
“You don’t often get the opportunity to see the interior workings of a house, but looking at these 2x4s and these nails, it just looked so simple. I thought, ‘I could put this wall back up if I really tried. Maybe I should just start from scratch.’”
So that’s what she did. She put together enough money to buy all the construction supplies she needed and bought an acre of land. Then, she and her kids jumped right in.
“Once I had bought all these supplies and they were all piled up, there was no way out,” Brookins added. “There wasn’t enough money to pay anyone to put them together. There was no Plan B.”
A Family Effort
The family had no background in construction work (Brookins weighed just over 100 pounds and worked as a computer analyst), but they turned to YouTube for help. There, they’d watch videos on how to frame a window or how to put a foundation together. They’d research a few different ways and find the one that worked best for them and the home they were building.
Everyone pitched in, too. The older kids would work on the house before and after school as well as on weekends, and everyone would take turns watching the youngest.
“They were all in,” Brookins added. “My biggest fear was that my teenagers would wake up and say, ‘No, I’m not doing this.’ And it never happened. It was the first time they had felt any sort of power, any sort of control over their lives. And they knew how much they needed it.”
In the end, this amazing family did everything from the ground up: hand-mixing the mortar, running gas lines, and framing the walls, as per CBS News.
“It hurt,” Brookins confessed. “It was not something that was a great match to us physically, but my kids got up every day, and they came out here. I was working all day, and they were in school, and we would work into the night, sometimes by headlights. It was incredibly intense. There was nobody going to the movies. There were no dates, no hanging out. It was all hands on deck.”
A Powerful Message
Now that Brookins is on the other side of her domestic situation and her house build, she wants to share her story with other women who feel trapped in their own situations. She wrote a book, Rise, How A House Built a Family, and she has some advice for anyone else who feels like they can’t leave a bad circumstance.
“Forget everything you’ve been told about taking baby steps. Everybody says, ‘If you just take a small step every day, it will get better,’” she said. “In my experience, though, it doesn’t. You have to make a big leap. It has to be this huge, enormous act. For us, it was building a house. For somebody else, it could be something totally different. But you need to do something big that changes your perception of yourself.”
If you or someone you know is in a situation of domestic abuse and needs help, there are resources out there. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 and contains many helpful tools. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is another helpful resource.
Sometimes taking that first step is the hardest. But it could also be the start of a whole new future.