Survivor Advocacy in Action

Woman sitting on balcony looking sadly outMia 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. Mia was arrested, 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 especially worried 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 fieldShortly 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 snow storms, 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.

The initial relief of putting 2,000 miles between her abuser and the kids was replaced by stress, exhaustion, and worry. 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 was able to overcome her difficult rental history and limited income. After five months of wintertime homelessness, the family finally moved into 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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Domestic violence and homelessness go hand in hand

Mom holding boy's hand

Women and children are not among the homeless people we typically see on the streets of Seattle. You wouldn’t pass by them on your way to work or see them at a freeway onramp. Yet about half of homeless people are families, and domestic violence remains a leading cause of homelessness among women and children in the U.S. today.

“Eighty percent of homeless women with children have experienced domestic violence,” said Rachel Krinsky, LifeWire’s Executive Director. “Right here in Washington State, families with children represent nearly half of the 20,000 people who are homeless on any given night.”

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