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.

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Curly-haired woman in black looking down

DV and Sexual Assault

Did you know that sexual assault and domestic violence often go hand in hand? When we hear the term sexual assault, we often think of attacks by strangers. This isn’t always the case. In fact, around 33% of sexual assaults are committed by a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend. And nearly one in 10 women has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime.

Intimate partner violence also tends to start young, during the “tween” or teenage years. The CDC reports that among survivors of sexual assault, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, more than 22% of female survivors and 15% of male survivors experienced intimate partner violence for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17. Between the ages of 18 and 24, those figures jump to nearly half of female survivors and one-third of male survivors.

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