Breaking the Chains of Domestic Violence: One Woman’s Brave Escape

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Sadly, some people have a hard time leaving relationships where they are treated badly. But even in tough times, we hear amazing stories of people being really brave and determined. Let me tell you about Cara Brookins, a mom with four kids. Even though she didn’t have a lot of money, she decided to do something incredible that would change her family’s life.

Feeling really tired and upset after her second marriage ended badly, Cara Brookins wanted to find comfort in a special project. She decided to build her own house, even though she didn’t know how to do it. She learned by watching videos on YouTube. She sold her property in Bryant, Arkansas, and started looking for a new place for her and her four kids. The affordable options were too small, but she was determined to bring her family together. She didn’t know exactly how it would work, but that’s when she came up with the big plan to build her own house from scratch.

“At the time, it felt like the right thing to do for us,” she says. “Looking back, I know it sounds a bit crazy, but no one else thought so.”

Cara bought a piece of land for $20,000 and got a loan of about $150,000 to build a house. She learned how to build by watching videos on YouTube, where she figured out things like making the foundation, putting up walls, and setting up gas and plumbing. For nine months, her kids, who were between two and seventeen years old, helped build the 3,500-square-foot house. Her fifteen-year-old son, Drew, helped with plans, and eleven-year-old Jada got water from a neighbor’s pond to mix with heavy bags of concrete for the foundation.

Looking back, Cara says, “Every step felt really hard.” She worked while her kids were at school and then took them to the construction site, about five miles away, to work on the house until late at night. The YouTube videos weren’t always clear, and there were different ways to do things. To learn more, Cara hired a part-time firefighter with building experience for $25 an hour. “He knew more than us,” she says.

On March 31, 2009, Cara and her kids finally moved into their five-bedroom house, called Inkwell Manor. They named it that because Cara wanted to be a writer. Later, Cara wrote many books, including a memoir called “Rise: How a House Built a Family,” set to come out on January 24.

Looking back at the time when they built their own home, Cara admits, “We felt a bit ashamed that building our own house was the best choice for us. It wasn’t something we were proud of.” But it turned out to be the most powerful decision she could have made. “If I, a small computer programmer, can build a whole house,” she says, “you can achieve anything if you set your mind to it.”

Cara’s advice for people going through tough times is simple but really meaningful: “Choose one important goal and stick to it. Figure out what big thing you want to achieve, take small steps toward it, and invite others who also need healing to join you. There’s a lot of strength in that.”

The amazing story of Cara and her kids is best told by them. Watch as they share their touching story of courage and hope:

Even in the face of unimaginable hardships, there is always hope for a brighter future, as exemplified by Cara’s remarkable journey, which stands as a testament to the resilience of survivors.