Kiesha’s Story.  The organization, Survivors and Advocates for Empowerment, Inc. (SAFE) received a call on our 24 hour response line from a police officer at the scene of a domestic violence call. After getting some basic information about the situation from the officer, the SAFE Advocate was connected with "Kiesha" who reported that her boyfriend frequently assaulted her, and that he had access to a gun. Tonight he punched her repeatedly and kicked her and she thought he might kill her. Her neighbor had called police, but her boyfriend had fled the scene before police arrived. She said she and her three children had no safe place to stay and her boyfriend could come back at any time after the police left.

After doing a risk assessment that indicated that Kiesha’s boyfriend had a high likelihood of seriously injuring or killing her, SAFE created a safety plan with her. Kiesha’s Advocate offered to send a car service to pick her up and take her to a hotel for the night until a safer housing situation could be obtained or her boyfriend was apprehended. Two volunteers met Kiesha and her children at the police station nearest her house to provide food vouchers and written information about the criminal and civil legal process. She then went to a local hotel for the night until the Court opened when she obtained a Temporary Protection Order. In fact, she had a protection order in the past, but she dropped it after he said he would kill her if she kept it in place. After obtaining her protection order, she and her children were placed in a local domestic violence shelter for sixty days.

Because Kiesha’s case was high risk, she was assigned to a specialized Advocate at SAFE who contacted various community and government partners to obtain faster and greater assistance for her. Through this process, Kiesha was able to move into permanent housing, transfer the children to a different school and daycare, and obtain additional legal assistance.

Meanwhile, a detective was assigned to the case and requested a warrant for her boyfriend’s arrest. Kiesha’s boyfriend has since been arrested.  While she is nervous about having to testify at her boyfriend’s trial in the coming months, she is moving on with her life successfully and safely.

Shay’s Story.  "Shay" is a woman in her early thirties with six children. She was in a relationship for 11 years. Of those 11 years, eight years were filled with abuse. Shay would always leave and come back to her abuser because he would either find her or after exhausting her time staying with friends and family would have nowhere to go and return to the home. Feeling that a change of environment would help their relationship, they moved from Ohio to Maryland, however the abuse continued.

One day, Shay felt that she had enough of the beatings and apologies.  She realized that her children were being exposed to the violence between her and her husband. She decided to make her final move and left her husband and came to DC.  When she arrived in the District, she was not sure what would happen with her and the children.  She sought help with SAFE through the Domestic Violence Intake Center at DC Superior Court.  At the DVIC she met an advocate and was given her options surrounding community resources and programs to help her with finding income, safe housing, and a free attorney. Her SAFE Advocate also wrote her petition for a Civil Protection Order with her and she got a Temporary Protection Order that day.  She was referred to the Crime Victim’s Compensation Program where they provided her with food vouchers and transportation funds, but with six children Shay and the staff at CVCP decided that staying in a hotel for a month would be very difficult. When she told them she had nowhere to go, SAFE offered her a place in its 30 day crisis shelter where she could have a safe, quiet place to live while beginning to get her life in order again.

At the shelter, Shay was placed in her own apartment unit.  She met with the case manager who provided an assessment of her and her family’s needs. During their talk, Shay began to share the behavior changes that her children were presenting in school and at home. The case manager offered counseling for her and her children. Shay accepted the offer and was given the name and number of a local organization that focused on loss and grief.  She and the children receive counseling there to this day.  She was also provided a free attorney for her CPO case through the DC Attorney General’s Office and received her one year order giving her temporary custody of her six children. Her husband is also facing criminal prosecution for strangling her.  This case is ongoing.

With a collaborative effort, they began looking into affordable housing and employment.  Within the thirty days of being in the shelter, Shay found a job as a beautician. Shortly after obtaining employment, she found a three bedroom apartment for her and her children. After a short extended stay in the shelter, she moved into her new home where she has lived for almost three months and she remains working at a local salon.

Danielle's Story.  For years, "Danielle" was very independent. She had her own home, worked full time and cared for her two children all by herself. One day she met a man who she felt completed her. After some time living together, he became more demanding and controlling and began to lose his temper. The first time he assaulted her, she decided to let the incident go. Unfortunately, the anger and abuse became more routine. She knew that she had to get out of the relationship for her safety and her children.

After the last incident in which he threatened to kill her and punched her repeatedly, Danielle called police at midnight on a Friday night.  Her boyfriend fled the apartment before police arrived and she had no idea when he might return.  The officers took a report and then contacted SAFE’s Response Line to inform SAFE of the offense and offer our services to Danielle.  She was informed of her legal rights, including the possibility of filing an Emergency Temporary Protection Order or leaving the apartment with her children immediately.  She felt that she needed to leave immediately lest he come back and do more harm.  The Response Line Advocate called a taxi for her, and an advocate met her at the 5th District Police Station to provide her with food cards and diapers for the children for the weekend.  A hotel reservation was made for her and a taxi took her the rest of the way to the hotel for the weekend.  She came into the DVIC on Monday morning and obtained a TPO with the help of a SAFE advocate.

She was referred that day to Crime Victim’s Compensation Program and SAFE’s crisis shelter. She arrived there that evening with her children and was placed for 30 days while she attempted to gain back some independence. She expressed to the case manager that she was angry with herself for deciding to depend on a man to care for her. She had stopped working and let him take control of the money, leaving her broke in spite of having marketable skills.

After a week at the shelter, Danielle was offered a job. She was very happy to start working again. With the help of the case manager, she also decided to try therapy provided on-site at the shelter by another non-profit and found it to be very helpful. By the last week of her stay, she found an apartment and was planning to move. Unfortunately, she was given the wrong dates and the housing  was not available until December.  After finding out about her apartment issue, the case manager at the shelter gave Danielle the number to a 90 day housing program and said she should call to do the intake. She completed the intake and within a week was accepted into the program. Her plan is to stay at the 90 day program until the apartment she had found is ready in December.

Earlier this year, a young woman with a small child arrived at DC Superior Court looking for help. April and her daughter had been sleeping in her car for the last two nights afraid to go home. Her husband told her he would find her anywhere she went. Originally from South Carolina and isolated from anyone in DC other than her husband, she did not have anywhere else to turn.

When April got to the Court, she was directed to the Domestic Violence Intake Center where she was met by a SAFE Advocate. They discussed her situation and created a safety plan for her to ensure that her husband could not find her. The night she fled her home, her husband had punched and strangled her, and threatened to harm their daughter next. She decided that the safest thing to do was to obtain a Temporary Protection Order with temporary custody of the couple’s child, and to enter a safe housing program after that to provide some immediate safety and stability for herself and her child. She decided that she did not want to report the violence to the police.

April and her Advocate then drafted a petition for a temporary protection order and her Advocate explained the court process and told April what to expect during the hearing. April’s Advocate also took photographs of her injuries for the court file. April was nervous about talking to a judge, but her conversation with her Advocate gave her more confidence, and her order was granted. From the Courthouse, April was directed to the Crime Victim’s Compensation Program and received temporary safe housing until her next court date.

With her order in hand and the police escorting her, April was able to return to her apartment to get the remainder of her essential belongings and important papers. She returned to the Court fourteen days later for her Civil Protection Order hearing.  With the help of a SAFE Advocate, she was granted a one-year order and temporary custody of her daughter.   After three weeks in temporary housing, April was able to locate a shared housing with another woman in the program, and the two agreed to share an apartment. April and her daughter are currently receiving counseling, and April is looking for a job in retail, her previous occupation before her husband demanded she quit working. April has also gotten a free attorney for her divorce and custody case. While she has many more steps to take, April is well on her way to a life of safety and security for herself and her daughter.