20th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest The American Experience

Winston Salem, North Carolina, 2019. Arlene with her son Karter, at her new place. Arlene Photograph by Clara Vannucci Text by Arlene Adams For years I had endured verbal abuse, beatings, sexual assault. That night as he punched me in the head over and over, something inside me snapped. I stabbed him with a knife I had grabbed for protection. He died on the way to the hospital. In a matter of seconds, our lives changed forever. I was separated from my two daughters, who were only 4 and 2 years old. I was 22, facing a potential life sentence for murder. I thought my life was over. I felt devastated and was suicidal. After the 18 months I spent awaiting trial on Rikers Island, I was offered a deal Because of the domestic abuse I had endured: On March 23, 2012, I pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and released. I wanted to improve not only my life and the lives of my children, but also help others who had been affected by incarceration and domestic violence. Life after prison, however, was full of obstacles. I had to find an apartment and get a job in order to regain custody of my daughters. I interviewed for every job imaginable, but when potential employers learned of my record, I’d be denied the position. Facing unemployment and homelessness, I felt hopeless. It took me losing everything in order to realize my worth and work at becoming a better mother and person. Still, despite all the obstacles and difficulties, we continue to strive, now and forever.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 04.2019
Date Uploaded: 11.2022
Photo Location: wiston salem, None, United States of America
Camera: LEICA SL (Typ 601)
Copyright: © clara vannucci