Getting along with her neighbors was difficult for *Suzanne, especially since they constantly harassed her, threatened her life and the lives of her children. The harassment had escalated to violence, and the neighbors attacked her young daughter. Her daughter managed to escape them and to run to her family’s apartment for safety, but the attackers followed close behind, and banged on the door until Suzanne finally opened it. When she did, one of the attackers lifted his shirt and flashed his gun at her.
He did it to scare Suzanne out of calling the police, and it worked. Soon afterward, Suzanne’s neighbors began stalking her and her children while continuing to harass and threaten them. They motioned their fingers at them as if they were shooting them, and warned them to watch themselves.
Suzanne could no longer take living with her abusive, dangerous neighbors. She and her family should have been able to live in their community without fearing that their lives were in danger. Yet they were intimidated, threatened, and attacked, and had become too afraid even to go outside. That’s why she came to our Criminal Court Program office, desperately hoping to get away from the terror she and her family had to endure.
Finding Help at Safe Horizon’s Court Program
Our staff sat down with Suzanne and listened to her story. Suzanne wanted to relocate, but needed to plan a way to keep her family safe until she could actually move. We helped her create a safety plan and explore options such as filing a police report, getting emergency housing assistance, and applying for financial assistance to help with the move. Suzanne had only filed one police report for the assault on her daughter. She had not reported those other incidents because she was too afraid that her neighbors would retaliate.
We explained that Suzanne could receive emergency housing assistance, but she would need to file police reports. We also explained that should her neighbors continue their harassment, without a previous record about it, the police would not be able to arrest them. Suzanne decided to file the police reports.
Once she did, we helped Suzanne receive status as an “Intimidated Victim” which made it possible for her to get emergency assistance more quickly. In less than a month, Suzanne had found a new apartment, and with our advocacy, she was able to receive emergency funds to help her pay for moving expenses.
Keeping Suzanne’s Family Safe
As Suzanne and her family prepared to move, our staff worked with her to create a new safety plan, just in case her neighbors found out where she would live. We also provided a letter to Suzanne’s employer, explaining her family’s situation and requesting time for her to move her family to a safer place.
With Safe Horizon’s help, Suzanne gained the safety she and her family deserved. Suzanne also learned that in addition to getting help from the police, she could also depend on Safe Horizon to provide her with the tools she needed during her time of crisis. Suzanne and her family now have a new apartment and a new neighborhood, and they know if they ever need us again, we will be there to help.
* Client names and identifying information have been changed to protect their privacy. Images used are representations of Safe Horizon’s clients.