Arkansas Mom Who Escaped Domestic Abuse, Built A $500K Home by Watching YouTube Tutorials

Facing a challenging situation, Cara Brookins, an Arkansas mother, decided to rebuild her life after fleeing domestic violence with her four children. In 2008, she escaped from her “controlling and violent” husband, and in the process of rebuilding, she took an unconventional approach – building her own home by following tutorials on YouTube.

“We had been beaten so far down, that taking some sort of leap of a cliff, there felt like there was a lot less risk of failure,” Cara told Daily Mail in a 2017 interview.

“Because we’d already failed so big. What had I got left to lose?” she said.

Facing financial constraints and a desire for a fresh start for her family, Cara recognized the need for a home but couldn’t afford one. Determined to provide her children with a new beginning and leave the trauma behind, she embraced an unconventional solution – building their own home.

“We could afford all the supplies so we just put it together ourselves. I didn’t know yet how to frame a window or a door, how to snake pipes and wires through a wall or how to draw up blueprints and obtain permits. But I knew my kids, and I knew we needed this,’ she wrote in her book, Rise, How a House Built a Family,” she added.

Lacking any prior building experience, 45-year-old Brookins and her children turned to YouTube tutorials, dedicating countless hours to learn the skills needed for construction.

“With just a little bit at a time, we figured out how to lay a foundation block. There was a lot of asking people at Home Depot for help too,” she told the publication.

In 2008, when they embarked on their project, YouTube was less advanced, and smartphones weren’t as prevalent. The family would return home in the evenings, gather, and watch videos on topics like “how to frame a wall,” relying on their memory the next day on the construction site.

Surprisingly, despite their lack of formal training or any prior experience, the house successfully passed all city building code inspections, leaving inspectors surprised by the unconventional builders.

“I think they thought I was crazy,” the mum-of-four continued. “There wasn’t a single person that thought this was a good idea aside from my kids. But to me, at the time, it felt like the only answer.”

Brookins’ oldest daughter, Hope, who was just 17 at the beginning, shared that she initially felt overwhelmed by the enormous task they were facing.

The family started building Inkwell Manor on Hickory Drive in Bryant, Arkansas, in 2008. After nine months of strenuous work, they completed the impressive five-bedroom home. In March 2009, Brookins and her children moved into their new residence. The property, costing $130,000, includes a library, a three-car garage, a workshop, and a two-story treehouse in the backyard.

The property was valued at half a million dollars in its most recent appraisal.

“Building a house was the most difficult challenge we ever faced, and so was rebuilding our family amid the trauma of abuse,” Brookins wrote in her book.

Brookin married her high school sweetheart at the age of 18, but the marriage didn’t last, and he joined the military, touring the world. Her next marriage was to a man named Adam, whom she described as a ‘genius’ who had ‘crossed over’ to insanity due to schizophrenia. He stalked and terrorized the family for years, ultimately committing suicide.

After leaving her second husband due to fear and control issues, Brookin, unfortunately, ended up in another tough marriage with a man named Matt.

“He was controlling, manipulative and violent within a few months of our marriage,” she added.

Brookin remembered a traumatic incident where her third husband violently choked her until she lost consciousness. In another terrifying episode, she alleged that he threw her against a wall in a fit of rage.

“My kids and I spent years walking on our tiptoes,” she went on. “We felt broken, shattered, we were all just in this survival mode. We had all gone so far into ourselves, that we weren’t working as a team any more. It was very difficult for us to communicate, or even to talk to each other.”

The family still carries the emotional scars from their traumatic past. To protect themselves, Brookin purchased a gun, which she keeps with her as a deterrent against any potential threats from her ex-husbands.

Her daughter Hope, she wrote, grappled with anger, occasionally expressing it with ‘stinging words,’ while her son Drew withdrew into himself, with emotions simmering beneath the surface. Hope mentioned that the most challenging aspect of living with her violent step-fathers was the sense of helplessness in witnessing her mother’s suffering.

However, the process of building a house together made them all stronger.

“I’ve learned that I can do anything,” she said.

Cara added, “The idea of building our own home was not born out of boredom but rose as the only possible way to rebuild my shattered family while we worked through the shock waves of domestic violence and mental illness. We were not only building our home, we were rebuilding our family unit, and rebuilding our selves, our self confidence.”

Brookins is also a motivational speaker and has authored fiction novels, spanning young adult, middle grade, and adult genres. In addition, she hosts the weekly Raise My Roof podcast through Macmillan Audio.

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Source: Daily Mail

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