My name is Kimberly Rones.
I am the founder of Annie’s House-Safe Haven and I am blessed to share how my vision came to be. I got the name for Annie’s House from my Mother because she was like a “Big Mama” to so many people in our neighborhood. Annie’s House was birthed from the things that I had to endure in my life; primarily because of seeking approval and validation from the void in my life that I thought a man could fill since my father was never in my life.
My earliest memory of Rejection started when I was nine years old. I remember being in the presence of my father only to have him turn around and act like he did not know me. The root of rejection began in that moment. When I first had a relationship with a guy, I just wanted to be accepted. It did not matter what they did. It didn’t matter how they treated me. Just to be accepted and to be told I was cute or liked, was all I wanted. The very first time I experienced domestic violence, I was 16 years old. I had got pregnant by my child’s father. Later, we married. We were walking home one day, and out of nowhere, he became mad, picked me up and had me dangling on the overpass of the freeway. That day was my first experience of domestic violence. I should have known to leave, but I didn’t since he was an older guy and was my son’s father. Of course, later through the years, it got worst. He started to drink and whenever he got drunk, I knew I would get jumped on. I wear glasses to this day because I was beaten in my eye.
Back in 1987, these episodes went from bad to worse; my most traumatic was when he threw me into the refrigerator in front of my children. Because of him throwing me, my vertebrae were separated and I was paralyzed from the waist down. My children at the time were 4 years old and 1 year old. While lying in the hospital, I remember looking up towards heaven and I told God “I know you can’t just leave me like this. I have two boys I have to raise”. I was transferred to another hospital but after three days of being in the hospital, by the Grace of God, I was able to walk out of the hospital. I don’t have pins in my back, screws nothing! A lot of people don’t understand why I praise God and why I run the way I do but I know because it was nobody but God that healed me.
Unfortunately, I didn’t leave my situation. I took a break, went back and he’d beat me again. I never knew why he beat me. I found out that he had another family on the other side of town. Whenever he would get mad at her, I was the scapegoat and he would beat me. I have a scar under my chin from a time when I went out with some family and friends. He saw me there and told me to come outside. He put me against the wall and dropped me. When I fell, my whole face and chin was busted. At that moment, I knew I had to get out of this relationship. That wasn’t love and I could not do it anymore. I had been so beat down and my self-esteem was so low.
I didn’t know how I was going to raise my two boys. But I knew God would help me. I raised my boys and at that time they were 16 and 13. I met an older guy once again, sold my house and moved to Alabama. Big mistake! Someway I found myself back on the same bus of domestic violence, abused and fighting. How did I get back on this bus? I realized that I had to get out, so I left after two years and started over. I met another guy. Unfortunately, he was on drugs and I knew that wasn’t me because I don’t drink or smoke. I couldn’t be in a relationship with a guy on drugs. I promised myself if I could get myself out of this, I would help someone else get out.
In 2016, I came to Jacksonville. I spent my birthday with my best friend's sister. I left everything to start over. That is how Annie’s house was born. My mission/motto is that Women don't have to go through it. And for older women, they don’t have to stay in it. The Three R’s of Annie’s House is that it will give you Rest, Restoration and Refuge to start your life over again. I am a living witness that you can survive anything and that’s my story.
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