Domestic Violence and Evictions

Paper copy of eviction notice on brown front door with brass door handle

COVID-19 and evictions

Nationally, one in three renters is at risk of eviction because of financial hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even during the best of times, domestic violence survivors, especially BIPOC women, face economic hardship and are vulnerable to eviction. Women who experience recent or ongoing domestic violence are more likely to face eviction than any other group of women. And Black women face evictions at least three times the rate of other survivors.

COVID-related layoffs, reduced hours, sickness, and the loss of affordable child care have made things worse. Survivors who can no longer afford rent are worried about becoming homeless when Washington’s eviction moratorium ends on December 31 {Update: now extended to March 31, 2021}. Thanks to flexible funds from local governments, foundations, and individuals, LifeWire has provided many survivors with rental assistance, reducing their chance of becoming homeless in the coming months. Even so, too many survivors will face eviction in 2021.

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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.

Several months into the job, Mia’s boss began making unwanted sexual advances. She asked him to stop and made it clear she wanted to keep her work and personal life separate. The harassment continued, and he eventually threatened to call the police and report her for stealing if she refused his advances. Over the next year, the violence escalated in Mia’s forced “relationship” as her boss routinely physically and sexually assaulted her. Mia felt isolated, afraid, and depressed.

After Mia’s boss slammed her hard against a kitchen wall, she tried to call 911. He grabbed her phone and smashed it, yelling that he would destroy her life by telling the police that she tried to stab him. When the police arrived, the cook and her boss told the same story. But when Mia tried to tell her side, the interpreter had trouble understanding her. The police arrested Mia, and her boss fired her.

Once she got out of jail, Mia called her friend from church. She helped Mia connect with a LifeWire legal advocate. Mia was anxious about being deported and finding a new place to live but had no idea how to navigate the many complicated systems.

Her legal advocate connected Mia with an immigration attorney to answer her asylum questions. Collaborating with Mia’s public defender, her legal advocate helped Mia write a lengthy supplemental statement for the police and obtain a protection order. LifeWire helped Mia get temporary housing in a hotel until space became available at My Sister’s Home, LifeWire’s emergency shelter. Her advocate helped connect her to the resources she needed to get settled and find a new job.

Mia enjoys her new job and hopes to bring her daughters to the country soon. She is still working to address the criminal charges, and she feels hopeful now that she has an advocate to help her navigate the legal system. Mia is relieved to have someone who believes her and wants to support her every step of her journey.

Homeless in Winter

Mom with son and daughter in grassy field

Shortly after arriving in Washington, Rose found a job working part-time for the U.S. Postal Service. But between the government shut-down and February’s snowstorms, she went over two months without a full paycheck. Unable to rent an apartment because of the debt she took on to flee her abuser, Rose and her two children bounced between family, hotels, and her car. They were homeless in winter.

Stress, exhaustion, and worry replaced the initial relief Rose felt after putting 2,000 miles between her abuser and the kids. But what hurt Rose the most was watching her children face the ongoing impact of domestic violence combined with the new trauma of homelessness. Rose’s children struggled with their emotions at school and the lack of stability she longed to give them.

Rose reached out to LifeWire. With the help of her LifeWire housing advocate, Rose overcame her difficult rental history and limited income. After five months of wintertime homelessness, the family finally moved into an apartment of their own.

With a stable and safe roof over their heads and the support of LifeWire advocates, Rose and her children are healing and planning for their future. Rose is working on career development and the children are thriving in their new home and schools.

What I’m Grateful For

Thanksgiving with my family

It’s hard to believe that my boys and I spent last Thanksgiving homeless. We were living in a warehouse with no food, no water, and no kitchen. Instead of enjoying a home-cooked holiday meal together, we were wondering where our next meal would come from and praying my boys’ abusive father wouldn’t find us.

But because of you, this Thanksgiving is different. This Thanksgiving, we’ll enjoy a home-cooked meal in our very own home for the first time in many years.

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Domestic Violence and Homelessness

Woman driving a car

Alicia never slept in a building doorway. She and her kids never spent the night in a tent on the streets of Seattle or Bellevue. But for two years, Alicia and her family were homeless.

The eviction notice came after her abusive partner destroyed her credit by taking out loans in her name. She and her kids spent a few months couch surfing with various family and friends, never knew how long they could stay. They spent a year living out of their car. And for six months after that, they moved from shelter to shelter.

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