BeLinda Hyder came to AVDA in August of 2018 seeking legal representation for divorce after being married to her husband of 25 years. Gradually over the years what had once been a happy, healthy marriage turned into a physically and sexually abusive relationship rife with economic control.
Both BeLinda and her husband were employed and had good, solid jobs. She had been employed for more than 25 years at Reliant Energy as an accounting analyst and retired in 2004. Her husband was a truck driver. After an on-the-job injury in 2004, her husband was on disability leave, and, ultimately, he was unable to return to work. While convalescing from his injury, he became addicted to pain medication and started abusing alcohol. During the years of abuse, BeLinda agreed to subsidize their income with funds from her retirement account, which were quickly depleted. Her husband refused to help with any of the bills, leaving BeLinda to pay for all of the household expenses with her modest retirement savings.
It was during this time that her husband became physically, sexually and economically controlling. In addition to belittling her with derogatory references to her weight and appearance, her husband regularly restrained her and forced her to have sexual intercourse with him. BeLinda recalls that the abuse became so frequent and violent that she often moved her dresser in front of her bedroom door to limit his access to the room.
BeLinda dreamed of a retirement where she and her husband would live comfortably, enjoying their grandchildren and free time. She never believed that at 60 years old she would be the victim of domestic abuse and that everything she had worked so hard for would be gone, leaving her financially unstable. Instead, after the last instance of abuse, she fled her marital home and began living with her adult daughter, sleeping on a couch. She was relying solely on her disability income, finding the amount insufficient to provide her a stable place to live.
Houston Volunteer Lawyers suggested AVDA to BeLinda so she could receive free, trauma-informed legal representation. Today, her divorce is almost complete, and she has received a disproportionate share of the proceeds from the sale of her home. While she may purchase another home, she will find a more comfortable and permanent place to reside. She attends a divorce support group and is finding a more stable life.
She is forever grateful to AVDA for legally breaking the cycle of abuse and was part of AVDA’s summer 2019 press conference announcing its client-facing billboard campaign. BeLinda courageously shared her story with others stating, “You don’t have to suffer in silence. There is help. AVDA changed my life.” She hopes to serve as a mentor or advocate for other survivors looking to break free from the cycle of abuse.