In a crowd, Brandi is quiet. She smiles and is polite but doesn’t say much. One-on-one, though, she shines. She speaks easily and openly about the hardship she has faced. She shared her poetry, written about a tender soul seeking understanding and safety. After all that she’s been through, these feelings are elusive.
Brandi was married at the age of eighteen. For nearly two decades, she lived with a man who did not allow her to control her own finances or manage her life as an adult. He taught their children that she had no authority and they never had to listen to her. “It was a dictatorship, not a marriage,” Brandi said. Then her husband passed away after sixteen and a half years of marriage, and she found herself alone with three adolescent girls who would not listen to her and no idea how to live as an adult. She did her best to take care of herself and her children.
She first had to get away from her husband’s family, who treated her the same way her husband did. She moved from Iowa to Missouri to be closer to her mother. While living there, she dated a man who was so abusive that Brandi had to send her children to live with their grandmother to keep them safe. She soon ended things with him, got a restraining order, and moved to another town. There, she lived with another man and eventually followed a path to arrest.
After taking a plea deal, Brandi served her time in prison quietly. She read books and did as she was told. When she was released, she had nowhere to go. Her relationships with her family were strained. She went to the Heartland Center for Behavioral Change in Kansas City. She liked it there, but it was still a little like being in prison. Other people told her where she was allowed to go and when. While she was there, though, her Parole Officer told her about Second Chance.
Due to her schedule at HCBC, Brandi had limited time to search for jobs. She used Second Chance as her time to search for a job. Brandi was born on a military base and she struggled to obtain her birth certificate from Germany. The document was eventually replaced, but Second Chance helped her get a job with a hotel that would accept prison ID instead of the birth certificate. As her time at HCBC ran out, Second Chance worked quickly to help her find an apartment.
Today, Brandi has been working at her job for just over a year. She has been promoted from room attendant to houseman and, despite some drawbacks, she loves her job. She still reads a lot and is working on a fantasy novel that she first started before her husband’s passing. She is single, and while her relationships were once a driving force of her life, Brandi knows better what she wants these days. She now stands on her own and steers the course of her life.