Finding strength and stability

Every time Aleah tried to leave or hide, her abusive partner tracked her down. Eventually, one of his violent outbursts left her with a traumatic brain injury and a growing stack of medical bills. When he landed in jail for the assault, Aleah was also left to pay their shared rent and the other bills. She tried to find work, but jobs were scarce during the first months of the pandemic. Then her doctor declared her unable to work for at least a few months while she healed from her brain injury.

Aleah was months behind on her rent when she reached out to LifeWire for financial help. Despite the eviction moratorium, her landlord pressed her weekly about paying the back rent accumulated since her assault. Aleah told her advocate that she didn’t know where else to go for help. She had immigrated to the U.S. from the Middle East for school nearly a decade before, leaving most of her family behind.

To give Aleah the stability she needed to address her health and other DV-related issues, LifeWire paid her rent twice. When her abuser got out of jail and assaulted her again, Aleah called her advocate for help with crisis safety planning. She worked with her LifeWire legal advocate to get a Domestic Violence Protection Order. In the process, Aleah learned how to advocate for herself if she needed to call the police on her abuser again. Equipped with a better understanding of the American legal system, Aleah found a low-cost lawyer to support her case.

Feeling safer, Aleah worked with her advocate on becoming economically stable. She connected with the additional health services she needed to heal and applied for medical bill relief. Aleah finally felt able to sleep at night when she connected with Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) – King County, which will help repay her back rent. Aleah is still recovering from her head injury, but she hopes to find a new job soon. She recently told her advocate, “I’m doing really well.”

We support survivors:

LifeWire partners with survivors on their individual journeys toward renewed strength, stability, and empowerment. Our advocates listen to survivors as they describe their needs and help them identify resources that will enable them to build safer lives. By tailoring our support to each survivor, we are able to respond to survivors’ unique barriers, challenges, and goals.

Help us ensure that LifeWire’s Advocacy Services are here for every survivor who needs them when they need them.

Thanks to your support, last year:

  • 969 survivors worked one-on-one with a LifeWire advocate to heal from physical, financial, emotional, and other forms of abuse.
  • 209 participants received support from LifeWire’s Legal Advocacy services team for domestic violence-related issues, including Protection Orders and custody challenges.
  • 158 adults, children, and youth received domestic violence-informed mental health therapy to heal form their experiences.

We felt like we could rest

After weeks spent shuffling her two kids by bus between her friends’ apartments, Luisa finally felt she could rest. They’d found a safer place to stay at My Sister’s Home, LifeWire’s emergency shelter.

Her abuser knew that Luisa was an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who spoke little English, and she depended upon him for housing and other basic needs. But Luisa wanted to give her children a home free from violence. So she’d packed a few belongings and left.

As a victim of crime, Luisa learned she was eligible for a U visa that would allow her to stay in the U.S. with her American-born children. Over several months, Luisa worked with a lawyer and a translator to plead her case. Her Spanish-speaking advocate helped to translate the legal language and listened as Luisa practiced her story for court. Getting her visa and work permit was a huge relief. Luisa was able to renew her I.D. and open a bank account for the first time.

After finding a job, Luisa began to search for housing. Through King County’s Coordinated Entry, her advocate matched Luisa with a housing program run by
Muslim Housing Services. Because Luisa had no rental history, it took months working with her advocate to find an affordable apartment. After a year and a half at My Sister’s Home, Luisa was excited to move into a complex where both the office staff and maintenance workers spoke Spanish. Once the housing program ends, Luisa feels she’ll be ready to take over the whole rent.

We provide paths to safer housing

Our advocates work with survivors to overcome challenges that prevent them from finding and maintaining safer and stable housing. We offer confidential emergency and transitional housing and housing-first programs that prioritize getting or keeping survivors housed so they can improve their safety and pursue personal goals.

Twice as many survivors needed housing or shelter last year than we could serve. Help us ensure that no one has to choose between staying in a violent home or becoming homeless.

Thanks to your support, last year:

  • 368 families and 982 individuals received safe, confidential shelter and housing services.
  • survivors and their families found 29,385 nights of safe shelter through LifeWire’s emergency shelter and transitional housing.

2021 Impact Report

You Make a Difference for Survivors

2020 was an incredibly challenging year, as the pandemic, racial reckoning, political unrest, and economic downturn impacted survivors of domestic violence (DV) in very personal ways. Isolation grew and life became increasingly dangerous. At the same time, incomes fell and access to resources diminished. The combined pressures on survivors’ lives changed the daily rhythm of LifeWire’s work and strained our capacities. In no way was 2020 “business as usual.”

Yet, I am proud to say that LifeWire continued to serve survivors throughout the tumult. Our staff has shown up – remotely – with courage, creativity, and grit. We provided 368 families that would have been homeless with shelter and housing solutions. Our legal advocates helped twice as many survivors file for protection orders. We continued to teach youth about healthy relationships and shifted support groups online.

LifeWire also restated and reaffirmed our commitment to increasing racial equity, recognizing that domestic violence is intertwined with all other forms of oppression. In 2020 our staff became majority BIPOC, with representation at all levels to better reflect our community. We established a racial equity Task Force comprised of board and staff members to move forward specific, measurable goals and we approved and published our first set of racial equity values. LifeWire was able to do all this because you, our community of donors and partners, stood with us to make vital services possible and support our growth and evolution.

On behalf of the board, staff and the survivors we serve,

Rachel Krinsky
Executive Director

Survivor Advocacy in Action

Woman sitting on balcony looking sadly out

Mia was a political activist in her South American home country. After years of demanding change and accountability from her government, she faced growing threats and harassment. Eventually, a member of the military assaulted her during a political rally. No longer feeling safe in her country, Mia made the tough decision to leave her two daughters with her sister and flee to the United States.

Mia won political asylum and relocated to Washington. Her limited English proficiency made it challenging to find work, but a friend from church helped her find a restaurant job. Mia was relieved that she could begin saving to bring her daughters to the U.S.

Continue reading “Survivor Advocacy in Action”

Amira’s Story

Even though she’d left him, Amira’s abuser kept coming back. He forced and intimidated his way into the home that Amira shared with their five-year-old daughter Hana. He regularly followed her to work, harassing Amira in front of her customers and coworkers. Things became so bad, the 25-year-old Sudanese immigrant was forced to leave her job. Pregnant with her abuser’s child and unsure how to support two children on her own, Amira reached out to LifeWire.

Confident woman

With the help of her advocate, Amira connected with local resources to help meet her basic needs. She began meeting with a LifeWire mental health therapist, who helped Amira process some of the traumas she experienced after years of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Amira worked with her advocate to create a safety plan, which included seeking a protection order. LifeWire’s legal advocate connected Amira with a pro bono attorney who helped her obtain a protection plan and set up a parenting plan.

Since Amira obtained her protection order, her abuser stopped contacting her. Instead of worrying about her safety, Amira now has time to raise Hana and her infant son Abdi. Amira is working hard on her long-term goals of raising healthy and safe children, having stable housing, returning to the workforce, and becoming a U.S. citizen.

Renata’s Story

Renata was both relieved and afraid to learn her husband was behind bars. She felt safe, but knew that wouldn’t last. He could be released at any time. Renata wanted to protect herself and her two daughters, but she didn’t have any place to go. And without immigration papers, the Mexican-born woman didn’t have may options. Sensing Renata’s distress, the police officer assigned to her domestic violence case referred her to LifeWire.

Confident woman

With her housing advocate’s help, Renata and her kids relocated to My Sister’s Home, LifeWire’s emergency shelter. My Sister’s Home provided the family with the space and resources they needed to begin healing. After meeting with her legal advocate, Renata learned that she was eligible to apply for a U Visa as a survivor of a violent crime. If awarded, the visa would allow her to live and work legally in the U.S. LifeWire connected her to a pro bono immigration attorney, who helped Renata apply for and receive the temporary visa.

As Renata prepared to leave the shelter and move into her own apartment, she learned that she had to provide a higher security deposit due to her limited rental history. LifeWire used flexible funds to assist with her move-in costs and her first month’s rent.

Today, Renata and her kids are healing. She still attends group therapy sessions and social gatherings with other survivors. Renata wants to help other survivors the way LifeWire staff and volunteers helped her.