Angela's Story

The scariest day of Angela Johnson’s life happened in May of 1997 when she escaped abuse. Her then-husband threatened to burn their house down with her and their three young children in it. Living in fear and abuse was no longer an option, so she bravely left. Twenty four years later, Angela believes that courageous act saved her life. As you consider your year-end giving, hear Angela’s incredible story of triumph, from victim to survivor, and how her life has literally come full circle with the Houston Area Women’s Center.

Angela Johnson’s Story
Angela married her high school sweetheart at the age of 21, but the physical and emotional violence didn’t begin until after she became pregnant with her second child. When she threatened to leave, her then-husband promised to “do better”, and so the cycle went. Things improved for a little while until one ill-fated evening, when Angela had gone out with a neighbor. When she returned home, her husband went into a jealous rage and held her at gunpoint while their children were sleeping.

This terrifying moment was her breaking point, and she knew she needed to make her escape plan.

Angela had been working nights and attending school during the day to earn her college degree in accounting. Once she got that degree, she felt ready to leave. The day she and her children fled, they turned to a place where they knew her husband could not find them–the HAWC shelter.

A Chance at a New Life
Angela stayed at the shelter for about a month and a half and continued to work nights while she and her children worked through their shared trauma with counselors at HAWC. During her time there, she was given the opportunity to see the dynamic for what it was, and discovered the manipulation and emotional abuse that her husband had used to control her. Newly empowered with information about the cycle of abuse, Angela could begin to heal and move forward. By utilizing HAWC’s services and resources at the shelter, she began to build an independent, self-determined life, free from violence.

Where Angela is Today
Four years after she left her abusive marriage, in 2001, Angela remarried a man who promised to love her children as his own. He has kept that promise to this day, and together the couple raised three successful young men. Angela’s life has come full circle with HAWC, as she recently accepted a position as our organization’s payroll administrator. For Angela, HAWC helped her on her healing journey 24 years ago. Today, she’s proud and humbled to pay it forward.

From the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is thanks to our generous donors that HAWC’s 24/7 hotline never went silent, and survivors seeking support were not turned away.

Thanks to the financial support of this community, our doors did not close. You can make a difference in the lives of survivors like Angela Johnson. This holiday season, I am asking you to make a meaningful contribution to support our work. Let survivors know you believe them, it’s not their fault, and ensure that HAWC’s doors are always open.

Until it stops,
Emilee Dawn Whitehurst
President and CEO, HAWC


Click here to learn more about Domestic Violence.

24/7 Hotlines: 
Domestic Violence Hotline: (713) 528-2121
Sexual Assault Hotline: (713) 528-7273