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Turbulent trail ended in Wauneta for Karen Layman and family PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 21 April 2011 21:11


By Josh Sumner

The Wauneta Breeze


Making the choice to uproot your children and relocate to a new state is never easy. Karen Layman knows from experience, because that’s exactly what she did in September of 2009.

Karen and her four children, Justus, Anastacia, Aaron and Aidan, made the move to Wauneta from southwest Missouri for many reasons.

“I had friends here in Wauneta, and had visited the town before,” says Karen. “I liked the small town values that can be found in nearly everyone who lives here.”

But Karen’s narrative is better defined by the path that led her here than by the destination itself. The Virginia native struggled through an abusive marriage for several years before finally saying, “Enough is enough.”

“It was very hard for me to leave my husband because, morally, I was raised to believe that you pray for your husband and you forgive,” says Karen. “It’s easy to say, ‘Why don’t you just leave?’ Well, it’s because a lot of women believe love can conquer all. But it shouldn’t when it threatens yourself and your kids.”

Karen Layman, of Wauneta, in back at center, gathers with her four children. They are, from left, Justus, 9, Aaron, 5, Anastacia, 6, and Aidan, 4.  Karen and her children have called Wauneta home since September 2009. (Josh Sumner | The Wauneta Breeze)


Trips to domestic violence shelters and calls to the police were nothing out of the ordinary for Karen, who lived in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Missouri, before finally settling down in Wauneta.

As the years went by, and the violence at home spiraled out of control, Karen eventually found the courage she needed to separate herself from the abuse.

“I always believed him when he told me he wouldn’t do it again,” says Karen. “But I let it go on for too long. Everything changed when I realized that he can’t be an abuser if I don’t play the role of the victim.”

This realization, coupled with a recommitment to God, gave her the strength she needed to finally put her foot down.

Karen says she was inspired by several women as she moved along her path toward independence and a life free of domestic violence. Now, she hopes she can provide that same type of inspiration to women finding themselves in situations similar to the one she endured.

Karen is currently completing the coursework for a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from Bellevue University. Her future plans include going to graduate school, where she’ll pursue a degree in counseling.

“I want to work as a domestic violence counselor, so I can be helpful to other women who have been in similar situations,” says Karen.

Juggling a full-time school schedule with work while raising four children hasn’t been easy, says Karen. But she says she’s confident the fruits of her labor will be worth the grind. She’s also setting a good example for her kids.

“I want my kids to learn that hard work pays off,” says Karen. “It can lead them toward the life they want to live. I hope they see me as a good example.”

The young mother, who stresses the importance of school to her youngsters, said she hopes her children will aspire to go to college after they finish high school.

With its good school system, Karen said she thinks Wauneta is the right place to help her children achieve their dreams.

“My kids get one-on-one attention from teachers, which is great,” says Karen. “I also like knowing it’s safe for my kids to play outside.”

Something else Karen has found in Wauneta that she says she’s never experienced in any of the other places she’s lived is strong community support — like the support she received last holiday season from Jan DeWester, of Wauneta, who donated money to her family for presents.

“She basically provided Christmas for my kids, and she did it in such a way that it felt like it was still from me,” says Karen. “She did it with a caring heart.”

The path hasn’t always been smooth, but Karen says she’s hopeful that God will continue to guide her through the storm, toward a new life that’s more harmonious than the one she had been living.

“I wouldn’t be who I am today without living through what I’ve been through,” says Karen. “I’m confident that God will continue to guide me.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 April 2011 21:13