New Hope for Women provides services to all residents of Waldo County who are experiencing domestic violence, dating violence or stalking.
The following story was written by New Hope for Women’s transitional services advocate.
It was September 13th, 2018 when I met this survivor for the first time. She had been in earlier that month to meet with an Advocate who felt she needed Case Management services. I welcomed this very timid and teary-eyed woman into the office, closed the door, and she immediately began to sob uncontrollably. I was just one month into my role as the Transitional Services Advocate at New Hope for Women and this was truly a test of my newly learned advocate skills.
I began to tell this woman that our office was a safe space, and that she could feel free to share with me whatever she had on her mind. This survivor was quick to share that she wanted help filing a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA), that her abuser was her boyfriend of eight years and the father of her four year old daughter whom she had brought with her to the meeting. She lived in a home her abuser owned, but all utilities were in her name. The electricity and water had been shut off due to non-payment, she could not get a job because she could not afford childcare. She told me in detail the abuse she endured. She was rightfully very fearful.
This woman no longer had anything to lose and was aware that she was in a very tough spot. We completed the intake and made a safety plan as well as a plan to remedy the immediate unmet basic needs this woman was facing. I called the water company to assist her in making a payment plan that would include immediate restoration of the water and I linked her to the local community food pantry that would often help with utility bills. Our next meeting was just as tearful. We completed the PFA together and discussed housing options. I assisted her in filling out one of our transitional housing applications as well as a Section 8 Voucher application. It was in this moment that I realized just how strong of a woman I was working with. As I saw the interactions between this woman and her daughter I could see her pull herself together and be strong at every moment that mattered. Though she was living in fear, she was still very present and quick to do her part in our teamwork.
As I began to build a professional relationship with this survivor I accompanied her to her PFA court hearing. I watched her advocate for herself with grace and poise. She said our presence in court was what made her able to speak up, because she knew she had supporters who genuinely cared. She was given 45 days to vacate the home which her abuser owned, with no income, no rental history, and no way to know what the future would hold. She continued to stay strong for her daughter.
About a month later I shared her story with the other staff at New Hope for Women. We had a recent opening in our Transitional Housing and I immediately thought of this client, who had continued to meet with me regularly as we worked through obstacle after obstacle. All of the New Hope for Women staff agreed that this woman would be a good fit for our transitional housing unit. Upon making a formal plea to the property managers, she was accepted into our two year transitional housing program.
This survivor has been living in the transitional unit for about a month. The PFA has proved helpful as she has had no contact with her abuser and is able to raise her daughter in a safe and nurturing environment. Our meetings are still very productive and often emotional but the goals have changed from basic survival to thriving. Her new goals include getting a job, going back to college, and saving money for her own vehicle. It has been a pleasure to work with this client and I am grateful that our organization has had the ability to assist in all aspects of her life while she works hard to rebuild a stronger and healthier lifestyle, free of abuse and neglect.
6 Public Safety Way
Belfast, ME 04915