In June 2008, I moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn’s Manhattan neighborhood.
The apartment had a kitchen island light in the bathroom, a sink and a counter top.
The living room was decorated with black plastic tables, a bed and a couch.
In one corner of the living room, a large, dark table had been removed to make room for a table and chairs.
A few months earlier, the Brooklyn Fire Department had responded to a fire in a single-family home on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
A woman in the home died, but the blaze was still under investigation.
A fire investigator found a number of fire hazards in the apartment.
A small refrigerator was filled with gasoline, so the apartment’s fire department had a backup plan: They would blow it out, burning a nearby dumpster.
A week later, the apartment burned to the ground.
My husband and I rushed back to the apartment to check on my husband, but I was too afraid to go outside.
I wanted to stay indoors.
I knew the apartment was dangerous and I wanted my husband to stay inside.
We were not allowed to leave our son at the door.
We kept searching for our belongings in the dumpster, but we were too afraid of the flames.
We did not want to leave the boy alone with a fire that would destroy everything in its path.
At that point, we decided we would do the right thing.
The fire department told us that we could not use the dumpsters.
The dumpster had already been lit, so we could burn it down.
I said, “OK, I’ll take the dump.”
I took out a stack of trash bags and put them on the stovetop.
The next day, I started to feel better.
The gas was gone.
The place smelled so bad.
The house had been razed to the base.
I didn’t have the strength to go to the police.
I had no one to go with.
I got a ride from my boyfriend to the NYPD headquarters in Williamsburg.
My boyfriend went through the building, and after checking in with me and asking questions, he drove me to the station.
I was nervous.
I asked the fire department, “Did they say we could put it out?”
They said, Yes.
They said they had no backup plan.
The police told me, “We’re going to have to take you into custody.
You’re not going to be able to leave your son at home.”
I had my baby in the car with me.
I went out into the hallway to find my son.
The baby was in the middle of a tantrum.
I looked at him and he was screaming, “Mommy, don’t do this to me.”
I told him, “Don’t do it.
I’ll do anything.”
My baby was still crying, but he was still angry and he wanted to hurt me.
He started to bite me.
They put me in a holding cell, put me on a table, and I was screaming.
I told them, “No, no, no.
I don’t want to hurt you.
You are going to hurt my baby.”
My son was crying, and he started to attack me.
The officers handcuffed my son and started to put him in the holding cell.
They told him he would get a restraining order.
I cried in my cell, “Please don’t put me up here.
I’m afraid of them.”
I was crying because my baby was my only one.
I just want to be free.
I’ve always had my life in front of me.
Now, I was stuck.
When I was released, I tried to find a way to move out.
I moved to a different apartment and tried to get out of there.
I tried telling my boyfriend, “I’m going to stay in here.
It’s safer here.”
He said, I can’t let you leave.
I think about what happened when I moved out.
Now I’m homeless, and my life is completely ruined.
I still have a bad temper, and it’s still the same kind of anger that I had before.
My family has been trying to help me.
My son has been living with me since I moved in.
He’s been in and out of jail for a year.
I want to get a job.
My baby wants to move in with my brother and sister.
I need a job to pay for food and rent.
I am scared.
I haven’t seen my son in four years.
I know my life has been ruined.
What can I do?
I don “t know how to” help myself or my family.
I can never get back into my job.
I would like to work again.
My daughter has been in therapy for a while now.
She has talked to me about her father, who she says is a violent man who took advantage of her.