My name is Maggie, and if it wasn’t for LACASA, I believe my daughters would not have a mother, and I would be another wife killed by her husband during a domestic dispute.

My husband and I worked full time in the early years of our marriage. After we started a family, the trouble began. My husband wasn’t home much then, and when he was, he was distant and disconnected, unless he was drinking — then he was critical, demanding, and itching for a fight.

While I excused away his cruel words, the arguments became physical. I never told anyone because I believed there was something I could have done to prevent it.

Things escalated.

While he didn’t control his spending or drinking, he sure did control us — with a vengeance. We were prisoners in our own home. The girls weren’t allowed to participate in after-school sports or activities, and he made my life miserable if I wanted to visit a friend or go to a family gathering.

Things began coming apart.

When I got upset after learning we were behind on our house payments, he hurled a gallon of milk at me, barely missing my head. It splattered all over the kitchen. He called me a “C,” demanding I clean it up.

Three days later, after I put the girls to bed and took a bath, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror brushing my hair. He walked up behind me. I stiffened as he put his arms around my waist. When he tried to move his hands under my robe, I pulled back.

Now, so many times in the past I would go through the motions to end a conflict, but this night, I couldn’t.

But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. Forcing me down on the bathroom floor, rolling the full weight of himself on me, he raped me. The more I fought, the angrier he got. As I scrambled to get up, he pulled me down by my hair, slamming my head against the floor. I fought harder than I’d ever fought in my life.

I didn’t win — but I finally, once and for all, decided to leave.

The next morning I called in sick to work. After I drove my girls to school, I raced home and went room to room with garbage bags, throwing in anything I thought we’d need, making split-second decisions based on what would fit in the trunk of my car.

My daughters and I went to stay with a friend. When my husband got home and found us gone, he started blowing up my phone with calls and texts. The last message was chilling: With his phone on speaker, he was firing off his gun and threatening to come to my work — a daycare — to kill me and every child and teacher there.

I called the police — they found him in front of our home, still firing rounds into the air. And even though they arrested him, my nightmare didn’t end.

Fortunately, my friend encouraged me to get help at LACASA. The staff worked with me on a Safety Plan, and helped me get a Personal Protection Order. They provided us counseling, and accompanied me to court proceedings.

My soon-to-be ex-husband kept stalking, harassing and threatening me. He violated the Personal Protection Order so many times that a judge sent him to prison for two years. Even though he was locked up, I still looked over my shoulder everywhere I went.

Because of LACASA’s Transitional Housing Program, we got to live in a safe, fully furnished apartment rent-free for two years. I saved every penny and bought a small house to call our home. My girls thrived at their new school, and joined soccer, choir and dance.

None of this would have been possible without LACASA. To everyone who supports this organization’s work, I want to thank you for helping us put the broken pieces of our lives back together — one step at a time