How mother of 4 who fled domestic violence built home watching YouTube videos

How mother of 4 who fled domestic violence built home watching YouTube videos
After fleeing domestic violence, Cara Brookins was left traumatized, alone and with no money to provide for her four children.

And in desperate need of a home, she decided to do something everyone around her said was impossible.

Brookins, 45, built a home from the ground up with nothing more than YouTube tutorial videos and a small bank loan. Her work crew was made up of her four children.

The Arkansas family turned a traumatic experience into a story they are now sharing with the world. In a new memoir written by Brookins, she says building the home was the hardest thing she’s ever done.

With “no experience nailing together anything bigger than a bookshelf” she and her kids “poured concrete, framed the walls and laid bricks” for their two storey, five bedroom 3,500 square foot home.

It all started a couple of years ago when Brookins married a man who she told CBS News “descended into full-blown paranoid schizophrenia.”

She told the network that she remarried a man who became violent and continued to come after the family even after Brookins divorced him. But it wasn’t an easy decision to leave him, Brookins said.

“I just always thought that, no matter how bad it was, maybe I could make it better. Maybe I can fix this. But eventually, I realized there’s no way that I can ever make this situation better,” Brookins told CBS. 

Feeling trapped in her old home, she wanted to build a new house that was safe for her children, she said in her memoir

So in 2008 when her four children were 17, 15, 11 and two at the time, Brookins got a bank loan, bought all the supplies to build the house and watched YouTube instructional videos religiously.

The family watched videos on topics like how to frame a window, how to pour a foundation and how to run gas lines. And in all their stops at Home Depot, Brookins would always ask the staff working there how they would build certain things.

“Once I had bought all these supplies and they were all piled up, there was no way out,” Brookins explains. “There wasn’t enough money to pay anyone to put them together. There was no plan B,” she told CBS.

Brookins told the station it was a joint effort that took nine months and everyone in the family was responsible for different tasks. Everyone worked with their hands and would take turns watching the two-year-old toddler.

She was scared that some of her kids would refuse to do the work but it turned out to be a powerful exercise that she said allowed her kids to have the structure they needed in their lives.

Brookins said the house miraculously passed every city building code inspection. The Daily Mail is reporting that the house was built on $130,000 USD and is now worth half a million.

Brookins says she wants to empower other women who are paralyzed by abusive relationships to tell them that anything is possible.

“The only way to change your path is to shock yourself and everyone around you into a bigger vision of self.”
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