A Life I Never Dreamt of Living

From Gender-Based Violence to Homelessness

San Francisco, The Bay Area, my home. My well-furnished house that I felt I would never leave, not even in my worst thoughts. Little did I know this comfort of having a nice home, family and even cars would be short-lived. In October of 2013, I got married to my sweetheart—let’s call him Michael for privacy reasons. I was filled with happiness and expectations of a long-term marriage. Months later, we were blessed with two handsome twin boys. Michael was—and still is—a very wealthy man in San Francisco so I didn’t have to work. I just stayed home taking care of our boys and our house, and ran some of his errands from home or just nearby.

Years went by and everything seems all right, business is doing well and the family is well. On our twins’ second birthday, we decided to hold a party at our home and Michael invited some of his friends over as well as mine. I had a best friend—let’s call her Rachel. I offered her champagne to welcome her but she couldn’t drink. Well there was good news: she was expecting! That came as a surprise considering she was still single. The party was awesome and everyone had quite a lot to drink. As the kids went to bed, I went with them and as usual read them bedtime stories. The boys fell asleep, and I went back to the party. I couldn’t find either Michael or Rachel, but after a few minutes they both came back and joined us. The party ended, and everyone went home.

The following morning Michael prepared to step out and left his phone behind, and a text came in. Usually we do not check each other’s phones, as we have nothing to hide. However, this time I got a bad feeling—a feeling that I should really have a look. Luckily or unluckily, I went for it, and I just couldn’t believe it. It was Rachel, asking Michael if we talked about it and if not when he was going to tell me. It shocked me, I could not even speak and just stood there like a zombie. My best friend was pregnant by my husband. I did not  ask him at that moment so I let him go, then asked Rachel to come over, and she accepted everything.

This was the beginning of the end. I know it feels like a drama movie, but this is my story of how I became homeless. Michael began to change and actually came up with an idea that I should accept what has happened and welcome Rachel as a second wife. I couldn’t accept that and everything else went south. It got so bad that every time Michael had a drink he’d come home and beat me up. This is the first time I really came to understand what gender-based violence (GBV) meant and how victims suffer. I did not have peace in my own home, and I just could not take it anymore. One day I just woke up and decided to leave. I asked for a divorce and asked the court not to put anything in my name—mistake number one. Michael was a reckless husband but a good father, so I left the kids with him.

I should have thought this through. Maybe leaving was not a mistake, but leaving my kids behind was a big one. Michael married Rachel and they moved on with life. I lost my family, house, property and best friend. Nothing was the same—after all I had no job of my own. Within two years I was left with nothing after spending all the funds I was getting from Michael’s businesses into my account. I tried reaching out to GBV organizations but nothing much could be done considering I reported this after the divorce and walked out willingly. This is how I became homeless.

With COVID-19 haunting many businesses, finding a job was not easy, and on April 2020, I decided that enough was enough and got into sex work. I am currently a stripper and also an escort with executive clients. This is life I had never dreamt of living at all. Gender-based violence is real and so is the high chance of ladies out there becoming homeless for the same reason. We choose peace and decide to leave, but it does not always work out to the best of our expectations.