She fled with her children after suffering years of abuse, what she did next will amaze you


She fled with her children after suffering years of abuse, what she did next will amaze you

Cara Brookins and her family were running from a turbulent past toward an uncertain future when they stumbled across a tornado-ravaged house, half torn apart. It wasn't much to look at, but its humble appearance inspired Brookins to begin the most incredible journey of her life.

Brookins and her family had suffered from a troubled past. After experiencing domestic abuse at the hands of her husband, she filed for divorce. However, her ex seemingly continued to harass her and cause distress to the family's four children. Then Brookins remarried, only to find the same problems repeating themselves. Therefore, by the time the children were 2, 11, 15, and 17, Brookins came to realize that enough was enough.

Despite the fact that Brookins could not form a home big enough for herself and her children—Hope, Drew, Jada, and Roman—she prioritized their safety over their comfort. So together, they left the home of Brookins's violent husband and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas.

Although they had escaped from an abusive situation, the family now had to contend with life in a property far too small for an adult, two teenagers, and two young children to comfortably live in. Then one fateful Thanksgiving, everything changed.

"I had rented this cabin for a Thanksgiving getaway," Brookins explained in a January 2017 interview with CBS News. "And driving there, we passed by this house that had been ravaged by a tornado. It was this beautiful dream house, and it was sort of wide open."

Given this unusual glimpse into the inner structure of a home, Brookins was struck by how simple it seemed. Consequently, she began to wonder if starting her own construction project from scratch might be the answer to her family's struggles. In fact, the idea stuck with her, and Brookins began to formulate a plan.

So she sold her property and bought a plot of land in Bryant, on the outskirts of Little Rock. Altogether, Brookins decided to spend around a hundred and thirty thousand dollars on building materials and supplies. But after she had taken the plunge, she realized that there was no turning back.

"Once I had bought all these supplies and they were all piled up, there was no way out," Brookins told CBS News. "There wasn't enough money to pay anyone to put them together. There was no plan B." Instead, Brookins planned on using her own hitherto untested hands to build her family their dream home.

So she rounded up her four children and turned to the internet for help. In 2008, the video-sharing community YouTube was just a few years old and wasn't yet worshipped as the font of all knowledge the way it is today. Nonetheless, it provided an invaluable resource for the Brookins family as they attempted to build a house with no previous knowledge of construction.

"There weren't really comprehensive videos or channels dedicated to this sort of thing," Brookins told CBS News. "But there's a lot of ways to frame a window or to put a foundation together. So we would watch three or four videos for each stated construction and then think, which one of these is going to work best?"

So the family rallied together, and slowly a house began to emerge from nothing. Each one of the children, from the oldest to the youngest, found an important role to play. For instance, eldest daughter Hope helped out with the marking and cooked food for everyone to share. Drew, the family's oldest son, helped to create the blueprints needed for the city to approve the construction.

Even the two youngest children got their hands dirty. Yes, Jada would help carry water from a nearby pond to mix into the foundations, while Roman, who was just two at the time, would help with building counters and pouring concrete.

Although Brookins was initially worried that the older children would not want to get involved with the project, the whole family pitched in without complaint. "It was the first time they had felt any sort of power, any sort of control over their lives," Brookins told CBS News, "and they knew how much they needed it."

For nine months, the Brookins family worked away, building their new home from scratch. From mixing up the mortar used for the foundations to installing gas in the home, they did it all themselves. Brookins admitted that the process was a challenge and that her children sacrificed some of their social lives to see the project completed. But she believed that the experience has been instrumental in bringing them closer together as a family while helping them to move on from the traumas of their past.

Today, the family lives together in the completed house, a five-bedroom property they call Inkwell Manor, complete with a library, shop, and treehouse. Brookins has also written a book called "Rise: How a House Built a Family," which is about her experiences. She hopes that it will encourage other families dealing with domestic violence to take the big steps needed toward a new life.

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