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.

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 womanWith 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 spend raising 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 womanWith the help of her housing advocate, 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 as a survivor of a violent crime she was eligible to apply for a U Visa. 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 had to provide a higher security deposit due to her limited rental history. LifeWire was able to use 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.

Bailey’s Story

Bailey seemed tentative when she approached the LifeWire advocate. The sophomore health class had just finished an hour and a half training on domestic and teen dating violence. Working in pairs, the students acted out different dating scenarios designed to teach them how to recognize the warning signs of unhealthy relationships. Bailey told the LifeWire advocate that she recognized several of these signs in her own relationship.

Young woman, looking confidentShe had been dating a boy at her Eastside high school for several months. Over time, he became increasingly controlling. He checked her texts, demanded she spend time with him and refused to listen when Bailey tried to break up with him. But, because he had never hit her or yelled at her, Bailey hadn’t considered their relationship unhealthy.

For twenty minutes Bailey talked with the LifeWire advocate about how to approach the break-up she planned for the next day. Together, they created a safety plan, discussing where the break-up would take place and how she would get support from friends and family.

Thanks to partnerships with local high schools, colleges and universities, LifeWire uses innovative exercises to engage students like Bailey and provide them with the skills they need to have healthy relationships. These trainings also open the door for students to talk about domestic or teen dating violence and receive the support they need to live healthy lives.

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.

Continue reading “What I’m Grateful For”