Free At Last…

Free at last...the story of a woman caught in the cycle of domestic abuse.

By P. J. Stratton

(An excerpt from her book)

I am celebrating my 'Freedom Anniversary'. On October 8, 2006, I began a new life, with new friends and a new job in sunny Los Angeles, California. This moment was a culmination of my lifelong dream come true to be in the land of palm trees, ocean views, and the legendary Old Hollywood playground of my favorite film noir movies.

My desire to live in Los Angeles since I was eight years old originated by reading my mother's Photoplay Magazines and both of us were avid film aficionados of old Hollywood films. This only increased after celebrating my 30th birthday touring California beginning in San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and Los Angeles where I climbed an hour up to the Hollywood Sign, snapped my photo at the ‘D’, and continued to Disneyland in Anaheim, and down to beautiful San Diego.

My heart was thrilled and happy, but weary having ‘blazed a 1500-mile trail’ in 36 hours through the desert to California...alone! Only a few days before I had left my 5-year business of building outdoor living environments in the hands of my business partner and oldest son, and bid my beloved family goodbye departing Dallas, Texas on Friday.

I was, in fact, escaping an abusive relationship after receiving the biggest slap in the face as my 'Christian' boyfriend confessed the previous New Year's Eve at midnight he would never marry again and had no use for church. He confessed he had been a cheater in all his relationships and proved to be so in ours coupled with abusive anger issues when confronted with wrongdoing.

However, through the years I had allowed other relationships and extended family members to disrespect me verbally, emotionally, and some physically. I chose to make peace, instead of fighting and take the 'high road' by setting a 'Christian' example. This technique does not work when dealing with misogynistic, egotistical, and narcissistic sociopaths with violent tendencies. What is it about us strong Proverbs 31 women which causes us to believe we can 'change' another person primarily because of our love for them? I realized this was a thought pattern in my past relationships which were ‘unequally yoked’ and these are issues only the Holy Spirit can perform. We try to talk it out and convert them.

You can talk until you're blue in the face, but some men and women will ignore you and even those with doctoral degrees behind their name. We must resist our efforts to be another person's Savior. It's simply not our calling! 

But God made a way of escape for me as He says in His Word... 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Tim Allen and PJ Stratton Photo Credit: PJ Stratton

Tim Allen, a dear long-time friend from Newport Beach, CA was aware of my heartbreak and created a job for me in Los Angeles with his company. When I met Tim in 1999, he was a 'scout' and substance abuse counselor for the Los Angeles Angels baseball team and a brilliant professional. I felt in safe hands and spent a year preparing to move.

The day of arrival in Los Angeles a glorious view from Palm Springs to Beverly Hills and on to the Pacific Ocean. I was a ‘California girl’ just as the Beach Boys song played on my phonograph many years ago. My journey had begun!

My first day on the new job progressed, then reality set in. Perhaps it was fatigue having left family, children, grandchildren and a harsh reminder that I was 1500 miles from home and alone in California. I was an emotional wreck missing my family and vast support group of loyal friends in a new city with 144 ethnicities, 20 million people and the sheer magnitude of Southern California's geography coupled with its traffic was massive to adjust to from the onset.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

A million thoughts were running through my mind. Had I done the right thing by leaving my old life? I missed my family and friends. The tears began to fall, and I found myself calling out for God to help me. In the midst of the crocodile tears running down my face, my mobile phone rang. It was a Prayer Minister from ORU Prayer Tower in Tulsa, Oklahoma calling to see if she could pray with me! What? Unbelievable as to the timing, this very incident gave me comfort and confidence in His love for me and in my heart, I knew God was with, tomorrow and always! God healed me right then and I focused forward.

After work, I explored the sights and found myself driving to the Hollywood Sign, which I had not seen in person since May 1985 and then to Brentwood to pay my respects to Marilyn Monroe's former home. California weather is glorious with warm, balmy ocean breezes which sweep over your face wrapping themselves around you in warm hugs. I was sold and throughout 17 years there I rarely used my car's A/C; my windows were down, hair blowing in the wind and my Christian music blaring all the way. Southern girls do things right, so make room: we are coming through!

I was making new friends, going to celebrity events and acclimating to my new vibe tribe. At Dave Navarro's Halloween Party held on the rooftop of Kodak Center, I met Al Jolson's great nephew, Jeffrey Jolson-Colburn, CEO of Hollywood Today an online entertainment magazine. He was rummaging through 30 pages of events for the night, and I asked if I could be of service as a writer/photographer. 2 days later, I was on the red-carpet snapping photos of Katie Holmes in the midst of her romance with Tom Cruise.

Hollywood Blvd.

I covered the 2006 AFI Film Festival and interviewed Gil Cates Sr. and Jr. From this day on, I worked my day job downtown and moonlighted as a photojournalist in Los Angeles. I would be up until 3 am editing and formatting photos to upload them to WENN's London portal for the international sale to media news services. This was tough and I was not getting enough rest but what a blast. Yeshua was making a way as my photos sold around the world; I earned 50% of WENN proceeds.

Another exciting development came along as a new friend had a friend who knew of a room to rent near Runyon Canyon at the foot of the Hollywood Hills…a cool address to be in the mix. I called this very well-known actress to arrange a meeting and moved in right away. The rooftop 180-degree view of Hollywood was amazing of southern Los Angeles and Century City and within walking distance of the legendary Grauman’s Chinese Theater and Kodak Center where the Oscars take place every year on Hollywood Blvd’s Walk of Fame and the Metro train which took me to work and back every day for the next year.

Proverbs 18:16 A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.

Shortly thereafter another surprise came to me at Sylvester Stallone's 'Rocky Balboa' movie premier at Grauman's Chinese Theater. I was approached by a fellow photographer and photojournalist to shoot for London, England’s WENN Los Angeles Bureau. What an honor and 60 days into my Hollywood journey I had become an internationally published photojournalist for both World Entertainment News Network and Hollywood Today!

As the 2006 Christmas holidays approached, I was invited by friend and client, Phil Crosby, Jr., to attend his family's holiday party. I was pinching myself standing in the presence of hosts Peggy Crosby (Dean Martin's former love), her husband Jack Klugman (Quincy M.D.) happily smiling at me as he tended bar, Neile Adams (Mrs. Steve McQueen), James and Alba Caron (actor), Larry and Nancy Manetti (Magnum PI) and Mr. Cadillac: Frank and Linda Corrente.

P.J. Stratton and Phil Crosby, Jr.

The night was surreal as I snapped photos and Old Hollywood stories echoed in the room. Phil began to sing with his band and impressed us with a 6-hour performance intermingled with breaks as the Bing Crosby and Dean Martin ‘bobble heads’ bobbled to the music being played on the piano. What a talented guy and very dear friend. His grandfather, Bing Crosby, would be so proud of how he has blazed his trail as a 3rd generation star. Yes, it was a very surreal evening to be included in the Crosby/Klugman party as I was alone. God also knows when you are alone.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

This Texas native and California girl made it to Los Angeles and made it in Los Angeles just as other fellow Texans, Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Alana Stewart, two of whom I have met. Yes, God opens a door no man can shut! I also made it out of Los Angeles and home to Texas. I miss my wonderful California friends, driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, windows down, lunch in Malibu with my girlfriends, dinner with my rock star and movie star friends.

Someday, when the coast is clear, I'll be Oceanside in Paradise!

(To be continued)

Blessings, P.J.

P. J., a Plano Texas native, is a 1992 Rhema Bible College Alumni and serves as UFM's Board Secretary. P.J., currently writing her memoirs, owns several businesses and is an internationally published photojournalist for London England's World Entertainment News Network and Jeffrey Jolson-Colburn's, Hollywood Today.

  • Never be afraid to escape an abuser at home, work, or in church.
  • Step out in faith and take a chance.
  • He is the God of second chances.
  • It is never alright for violence to be tolerated in relationships.
  • Beware of the smooth-talking sociopaths
  • If in doubt...check him out at all costs
  • Abusers are attracted to strong women to break them.
  • Abusers are attracted to weak women to dominate them.
  • Abusers enjoy their total control over another person.
  • Some abusers enjoy physical violence over others.
  • Some abusers lose control putting others in danger of their lives.
  • Develop a deeper relationship with Yeshua.
  • He is with you every step of your journey.
  • Be equally yoked in all relationships.
  • God does not bring you a soul mate you have to ‘fix.’
  • God feeds where He leads.
  • God provides where He guides.
  • God does above all we could ask or think.
  • By all means, call local police, Sheriff's office or Help Line
  • Your life may depend on any of the above
  • Any relationship which does not support you in every aspect is NOT a true, is not a true covenant with you.


Domestic Violence Advocates in North Texas:

Friends of the Family in Denton 24 Hour Crisis Line (940) 382-7273(800) 572-4031 Text option | (940) 382-7273

Denton County Friends of the Family P.O. Box 640 Denton, TX 76202-0640Phone: (940) 387-5131 Fax: (940) 383-1816

Denton Outreach Office 4845 S I-35 E, Suite 200 Corinth, TX 76210

Restored Hope Ministries (Brings girls out of sex trafficking) 4301 Bryan St. #204 Dallas, Texas 75204(833) 334-0035