40 Stories for 40 Years: Lizbeth Cooley

by Emily Roberts | Oct 10, 2018

Lizbeth Cooley came to the United States to get her master’s degree after receiving her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in her home country of Venezuela. She fell in love with the United States, and also fell in love with a man named Robert. His charming personality and beautiful blue eyes caught her attention and her heart.

Before they married in 2002, Lizbeth noticed he was a little controlling, but she thought she could handle it. After six months of marriage, arguments started. Lizbeth’s parents had been married for 47 years before her dad passed away, so she never considered divorce an option. Instead she focused on trying to make the marriage work. As time passed Robert gained power over her, to the point that she didn’t feel like herself and began isolating herself to avoid confrontations with him.

After two years of marriage Lizbeth wanted to have a child and hoped that a baby would help. After trying to get pregnant and failing she started seeing doctors, but nothing was working. Lizbeth began saving money to pay for in vitro fertilization treatments. During this time her husband and his mother told her she wasn’t getting pregnant because she didn’t deserve to be a mom. She begged for one last treatment and, though she didn’t consider herself to be religious, started praying for a miracle baby. After eight years, Lizbeth finally got pregnant with a baby girl.

Having a baby brought joy back to Lizbeth’s life, but unfortunately it did not help her marriage. There were new arguments about the baby disrupting her husband’s sleep, or Lizbeth not doing more around the house. He started smoking again, drinking more and coming home late. That’s when the abuse turned physical.

In September of 2016 Lizbeth received a text message from a woman who said she was having an affair with her husband. Although she didn’t directly confront him about it, she did question his faithfulness to their marriage when he refused to let her borrow his cell phone one day. He then tried to strangle her in front of their four-year-old daughter.

“He had me held by my neck against the wall, then he put me on the floor, holding me by my neck with one hand with his other hand in a fist saying he was going to break my face. I could hear my daughter screaming in the background saying, ‘No, Daddy, no!’ As soon as he released me, I got up, grabbed my daughter’s hand, and ran through the back door to the neighbor to call the police.”

After the incident, Child Protective Services referred Lizbeth to The Family Place where she and her daughter began counseling. Her daughter had been afraid of everything from loud noises to using the bathroom by herself because she thought her father might be hiding there, but counseling helped her overcome these fears.

“This organization helped me get back on my feet after a difficult situation that destroyed me emotionally. Everything I endured brought me closer to God, and now I believe in Him,” she says. “I want to thank the Family Place for staying with me and giving me support through this entire difficult journey.”