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Veronica's Story: Finding the Courage to Walk Away
“I need help getting out.”
The first five words Veronica said to us when she walked into one of our Criminal Court program offices were clear. She appeared to be exhausted, scared, and she wanted to find a way out.
As Veronica sat in our office that morning, she described seven years of psychological, emotional, financial, and verbal abuse at the hands of her husband, and that he would also threaten her physically. Veronica told us that she held a Masters degree, yet because of the constant abuse, she felt belittled, frightened, and completely disempowered.
In spite of her education, she could not keep a job or maintain her financial independence. Her husband, however, had a job. He owned their home and he also held additional assets that she had no access to. In spite of these daunting challenges Veronica was ready to leave. She would need support to do so, however, so she came to our offices looking for help.
At Safe Horizon, our decades of work helping those affected by domestic violence makes us experts at providing a wide range of services. We have 24-hour hotlines to call or court and community offices where women like Veronica can walk in and ask for help. The first and more important thing we offer to victims is the ability to listen. And our staff listened as Veronica told us about her situation, giving her the chance to finally talk about what she’d had to endure.
The second thing we could do for Veronica was to help her take the next step toward finding a safe way to escape. She needed to know how to keep her child and herself safe in case her husband decided to keep his promise to hurt her. Veronica also needed to learn about her eligibility regarding child support and custody. We then also helped Veronica file a petition for a full order of protection against her husband at the Criminal Court, so she would be able to have him removed from their home, and encouraged her to begin filing her child custody petition.
Although she petitioned for a full order of protection, Veronica only received a limited order. Unfortunately, that placed her life in danger. Her husband violated the order and increased his threats and harassments. He then tried to illegally evict Veronica from their home.
Veronica came back to us for help, and our staff advocated with the district attorney's office on her behalf to have her husband arrested immediately for violation of the order. In addition, we worked with the district attorney’s office to ensure that Veronica’s rights as a victim would be protected.
Veronica needed to find legal representation, and our staff worked with a community partner to get legal representation for her. As her court case continued, we provided her with referrals and links for long-term counseling, information on job training and placement, and helped her understand the legal process regarding her case. With our help, Veronica no longer feels frightened and hopeless. Because of Safe Horizon, Veronica can look forward to a life for her child and herself free from abuse, a brighter and safer life, changed because of just five words - "I need help getting out."
* Client names and identifying information have been changed to protect their privacy. Images used are representations of Safe Horizon’s clients.