Dear PAVE and Parties of Interest,
This letter is in regards to my recent as well as former stay at PAVE. This letter will go into the purpose for the shelter for my family, what our stay was like as well as services, support, and how PAVE and the staff saved our family and played a part in keeping my family together.
From 2010 to 2014 I was a victim of domestic violence. It involved mental, sexual, physical, financial and emotional abuse. In the winter of 2014, with the assistance from ... Sheriff’s Office, I was able to get my abuser out of the apartment my children and I shared. I changed my cell phone number, changed my locks to my house, even my vehicle locks were changed. He was ordered out, however, found an apartment right around the corner. He was able to watch our every move. He would sit just shy of the ordered feet away as to comply with the restraining order. I then started having things happen to my vehicle, apartment windows, etc. He was definitely not going to leave us alone. Having him stand there, right in my vision was torture. After discovering my door was open several times and items were missing from my apartment, we moved to ... for help and protection with my mother.
Prior to the move, I became ill. I was diagnosed with bradi-cardia, vertigo and near syncope (a fainting disorder). With a year of physical therapy ahead and 2 small children, I needed help and thought my mother could provide this. I was not able to drive at this time and constantly dizzy, faint and fatigued. My mother moved our stuff into one bedroom, which housed our 3 beds, a television, and our clothing. During our stay I realized my mother was abusing alcohol, although she promised she would not use if we came to stay. I believed her because she was my mother, protector and savior. I was her daughter, with children and in need of medical help. While at my mother’s house, I was verbally and physically abused. My children were frightened and began hiding when my mother came home. The day I went to the UW hospital for 8 hours of testing, I came home to her chocking my 4 year old and my 5 year old was hiding. She was detained and I was able to escape. My children and I stayed in my Jeep in mid-January for 3 days until an ex-boyfriend told me about PAVE. I called the number he gave me and set up an appointment to talk with them. I was very anxious as I was so lost and being abused from all angles. We had NO SAFE PLACE TO GO.
Upon arriving at PAVE, the environment was very relaxed. They were so gentle and spoke very soft and kind. There was a staff member that entertained the children so I could fill out paperwork and talk. I noticed that the building was locked and secure. That made me relax a bit, as I knew no one was going to just walk in and find us, hurt us or worse. They gave me the shelter guidelines and checked us into a very large room with our own beds and dressers. There was also a play room, bathroom, kitchen, and finally a washer and dryer. My kids and I were excited over the smallest of things. My daughter jumped for joy at a clean sanitary bathtub. She said, “mommy, yeah, I can take a bath now” I think I cried for almost 30 straight days about something large or small as appreciating a clean bath tub.
The services provided by PAVE were too many to count. There is no way possible to record all they have done. I utilized the support groups for my children and me (and after 1 year we are still attending Thursdays from 6-730pm weekly). We utilized services for a taxi ride when the ER was needed. We utilized food, clothes, hair needs, toiletries and laundry soap. We had no food, hardly any clothes and no brushes when we arrived. There was and is emotional support, legal information, sexual abuse support, educational advice, housing help search, weekly meetings, check ins, child activities, reading with dogs, group projects, meals, Christmas parties, outdoor hikes, art therapy, meditation activities…it is endless. We participated in them all. There is also support for anxiety, insomnia, and insecurities.
The women and the man that work at PAVE were, are, and will always be life changing angels. There are no words to describe the length everyone involved go to, to help in any way shape or form. The children and I did not want to leave when we did. We all cried. It was extremely hard to leave there. My children and I wished there were services available that would allow low cost rent to be paid in order to stay in that environment at PAVE. With the staff and security it becomes a family in some way.
The healing that we all experienced from the first day at PAVE until today June 11, 2015 has been tremendous. I was at a loss with discipline, trauma, anxiety, health issues and stress. I was suicidal and almost to my breaking point. I looked into a foster home for my children. My plan was to place them in a safe home and then commit suicide. It is harder to live every day with all of the negativity in this world then to be at a forever peace. To not be hurt, punched, kicked, called fat, stupid, and threatened by weapons. To have no one to turn to or trust. Today I am glad that I chose to live for my children, but it was a real struggle for me when I was living a life of being abused.
There is not enough time in one day to express what PAVE did, how they did it, and what we took from it. Is PAVE needed in this community? Yes. I am interested in helping PAVE in any way possible until the day I die. What has PAVE done for us?
PAVE has helped me heal. PAVE has saved my life. They have shown me that I am worth it and I am needed, wanted and worth a damn. PAVE has helped me with parenting skills. PAVE has helped my children with respect and channeling anger in positive directions. PAVE has helped us grow together as a family. PAVE helped keep my children out of foster care. PAVE has given us the tools for success for a lifetime of positivity. PAVE has allowed us to LIVE, LOVE, and LAUGH and actually, it is genuine. PAVE has saved our life! Forever!
There is no amount of thank you’s that could repay PAVE for all they have done. It is not about a place to lay your head for a few days and a meal daily. It is for our family and a new beginning and a foundation for a remaining harmonious life. We live, not just exist.
Client Story 2014
June was referred to PAVE by a family friend whom she confided in. June called our crisis line in late 2013 and spoke to our case manager. During her initial phone conversation she disclosed that her marriage had become turbulent over the past few years and that their last argument escalated to threats of physical harm. She stated that her husband had not physically assaulted her, but that her marriage had become emotionally abusive and she was seeking the courage to file for divorce. This was a very difficult decision for June, because she had been married to her husband for twenty years and she could remember both good times and bad with him and their two children. They had a daughter named Bree who was sixteen and a son named Tyler who passed away when he was ten years old. The tragedy that her family experienced had a long term impact not only on the family as a whole, but also on her marriage. After speaking with our case manager June decided to come to PAVE’s weekly support group and see what PAVE was all about.
June came to her first group session, but remained quiet most of the evening. She stated that she didn’t have the courage to speak up yet, but enjoyed listening to other people’s stories and having a sense of support. Our case manager decided to set up individual meetings, in addition to the group sessions, to help build her confidence. During one of June’s individual meetings she mentioned that her daughter Bree was acting out in school. June understood that Bree suffered along with her and her husband when her son passed away, but also suspected something else going on. As June and the case manager explored this further, she disclosed that Bree told her she was sexually assaulted by a teenager in the neighborhood when she was twelve years old. June felt extreme guilt for not reporting this sooner, but stated that was around the same time her son passed away and she and her husband just couldn’t handle one more stressor. The case manager discussed this with June and encouraged June to speak to Bree about contacting our sexual assault victim advocate. About a month later, Bree made the phone call to PAVE. She spoke to our sexual assault victim advocate and immediately set up an appointment. A few days later Bree had her first appointment and she and the advocate immediately clicked.
Both June and Bree started coming to PAVE for weekly appointments and services. June continued to see our case manager and attend group while Bree saw our sexual assault victim advocate. June stated that she was comforted by the fact that her daughter was receiving help at a place that she was familiar with. Bree’s sessions focused on how to cope with her sexual assault, de-stress, manage her feelings, adjust her attitude, and how to stop and think before acting.
In mid-2014, June found the courage to file for divorce. During the divorce process she and her husband decided to go through intense couple’s therapy. Currently, June and her husband are still married and working towards a healthy and happy relationship. The advocates at PAVE continue to support June in her choices and are thrilled to see the progress she has made. Bree has also made great strides and is now able to speak about the sexual assault without having a flashback. She is open with her mom and is working towards being open with her dad. The family is uniting to help each other move through the grief they’ve experienced and also move away from the hurt from their past. June and Bree both consider themselves ‘works in progress’, but we see them as a huge success because the family is together and trying to work through their issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. June and Bree still visit PAVE regularly and will receive services for as long as they choose.
Kelly first contacted PAVE through our crisis line. She disclosed extensive emotional and physical abuse by her parents in childhood, along with a string of abusive adult relationships. Kelly was residing in another county’s shelter and was looking to relocate to Dodge County because her current abuser was stalking and threatening her. He had located the shelter she was staying at and she no longer felt safe there. PAVE worked with the other shelter to arrange transportation for Kelly to our agency.
During intake at PAVE, Kelly openly shared with us her multitude of health issues, including severe depression and anxiety. Kelly had the good fortune of having an excellent psychiatrist that was working closely with her on both behavioral therapy and medication. Many of our clients do not see a regular doctor or therapist and sometimes become confused about their many medications. The first several weeks of her stay in shelter Kelly rarely came out of her room. Slowly, our Case Manager built a relationship with her and was meeting several times a week to work out tiny steps of progress towards Kelly’s goal of independent living. These included things like taking a shower daily, making one phone call a week or looking through the paper at apartments. Approximately a month into her stay, and making slow but steady progress, Kelly’s depression peeked and upon the advice of her psychologist, she self-admitted to the hospital for her suicidal thoughts. During Kelly’s in-patient stay, she found out her health insurance (provided by a past employer) had expired. Without insurance, Kelly was concerned about how to pay for her stay. She exited the hospital early and returned to our shelter.
Kelly began diligently working on her case plan again, only to have some major personal obstacles arise. Her father became ill and she returned to her abusive childhood home for a visit with the good intentions of trying to help her mother care for him. Even though PAVE staff assisted Kelly in making the visit as safe as possible, Kelly returned to shelter a few days later with a black eye inflicted by her mother.
When Kelly came back to shelter, she attempted to fill her prescriptions for the first time without insurance. At a cost of several hundred dollars for a single month’s supply and no income, Kelly had no choice but to go off her meds.
Less than a week later, Kelly’s depression overtook her and she self-admitted to the hospital again due to her suicidal thoughts. After a stay that Kelly still does not know how she will pay for, she returned to shelter. At this point, Kelly had been with us for six months. In planning for her to transition to a more long term housing situation, we referred her to a community partner who quickly set her up in transitional housing while PAVE staff helped her establish Badgercare so she could stay on her medications. Shortly thereafter Kelly moved into transitional housing, but struggled with the rigid regulations of that system. She continued to meet with PAVE staff several times a week, including support group and one on ones after she left shelter.
At our last interaction with Kelly, she still had been unable to secure employment, which is a requirement of her transitional housing program. This frustration and pressure was overwhelming to her and she was again contemplating suicide. She self-admitted to the hospital for the third time in nine months for suicidal thoughts that same day. Kelly knows that upon her release, PAVE staff will be there to support her and discuss the challenges she faces in moving toward a violence free life.
Sally, a woman in her late 20s comes to shelter with her two children, Zach age 6, Josie age 8. Sally has been hospitalized by her abuser in the past. Her daughter Josie has a scar across her cheek from an altercation with dad when she was just three. Sally informs our Case Manager that her abuser will be getting out of jail (from a drug charge, not domestic violence) in a couple months and she would like to be self-sufficient and moved out of their shared home before his release date.
Sally admits she has a drug problem. She has been hospitalized for it in the past. She promises she is clean now and working toward a healthier life with her children.
After a few days in shelter, staff learns that Josie has sensory processing disorder, which makes shelter living a nightmare for her. It is too loud, too cramped, too hot and therefore all too overwhelming. Josie has a history of violent outbursts at school and while in shelter has several extreme melt downs that negatively impact other residents and their children. PAVE’s advocates stress the need for locating an occupational therapist to assist her in developing appropriate coping mechanisms. The Executive Director brings resources from home (as her child has the same diagnosis) to assist Sally with identifying sources of the behavior and soothing activities. Sally creates several plans to help Josie, but Sally gets overwhelmed with her situation and shuts down when Josie acts up. When Sally feels she is unable to parent, she disappears to her room, leaving staff and other clients to deal with Josie’s outbursts.
Sally has difficulty finding work, as we come to find out she not only has been hospitalized for her drug use, she also has a criminal drug abuse history. After about a month in shelter she does locate employment, but is frequently called at work by the school regarding her daughter’s behavior. Sally stops taking these calls because employer has made it clear that all these interruptions are putting her job at risk. Due to lack of response from Sally, and Josie’s level of violence, the school expels Josie for the remainder (one month) of the school year. Sally utilizes daycare vouchers supplied by Beaver Dam noon Kiwanis to get childcare with PAVE’s collaborating day care, Punkin’ Patch. Josie’s outbursts continue in the daycare setting and Sally eventually loses her job because of the more calls. After two months in shelter, Sally has saved enough money for a security deposit and several months of rent. However, she is turned down for multiple apartments due to her credit and drug history. Sally and her children spend the remainder of summer in shelter, with a total stay of four months – four times the average stay. She eventually gets a friend to co-sign for her lease and moves to an apartment with her children. She is unsure how she will sustain her living arrangement after her savings is depleted, as she is again looking for work and struggling. Sally has not had contact with us since she left shelter.
Tammie is eight months pregnant with her third child. She and her two young girls were referred to PAVE by her co-worker a few months ago, when the co-worker saw unusual bruising that looked like finger prints on her arms. Tammie called the crisis line and talked with an advocate, mostly about safety planning, but did not come into shelter.
A few nights ago, Tammie's boyfriend threatened her and her unborn child with a gun. She called the police and he was arrested, but was released the next day on a signature bond. Fearful for her and her children's safety, Tammie chose to come into shelter. The police escorted her to our door.
Tammie filed for a restraining order the following morning, with the assistance of PAVE''s legal advocate. Tammie got the temporary restraining order granted, but she decided not to show up for the hearing to determine the final order for the injunction because she was afraid of seeing her boyfriend at the hearing. PAVE's legal advocate offered to attend the hearing with her for support and reassured her of the excellent security at the Dodge County Courthouse, however Tammie was more concerned about what her boyfriend would do after hearing, perhaps stalking her or attacking her once she left the court house. She could not be convinced that attending the hearing would be a safe option for her.
Tammie lives in shelter for several weeks, working on the priorities she has set – finding work and getting her girls to behave better before baby comes. The young girls are out of control. They run around the shelter screaming and throwing toys. They kick and hit mom, each other and the other children in shelter. The girls refuse to participate in the activities the Children's Advocate plans for them and it is very difficult for staff to help them. Tammie has met with PAVE's Children's Advocate, who is working with her on utilizing time outs and positive reinforcement for good behavior. While this is helping, it does not truly solve the immediate potential for the children to harm others until their behavior comes around. Each week, PAVE staff try something new to help the girls feel safe and cared for.
While working hard on parenting skills, Tammie is struggling to find work. The economy is poor and she is visibly very pregnant. She is offered some temporary work, but it requires being on her feet 8-10 hours a day, which compounds some of the health issues she is having with her pregnancy. Rental assistance money in the county has been used up for this year and there is more than a year wait for state aid, meaning Tammie would need to pay for independent housing on her own. She works on budgeting and accessing community resources for things like clothing and food, but she still does not know how her and the children would survive on her income from temp work alone.
After staying with us about a month, Tammie's baby is born. A little boy. Her boyfriend found out from friends about the birth and is doing whatever he can to try to meet his son. He calls Tammie 10-12 times a day asking her to come home. He promises to change and tells her how much he loves her. Tammie does not know what do to. Staff notice Tammie is becoming less engaged with the girls, she forgets to regularly change the baby and barely gets out of bed. We are concerned she may be experiencing some postpartum depression. We refer Tammie to Dodge County, suggesting she get an evaluation and some help. She refuses to make the call, saying she is just exhausted.
After six weeks in shelter, Tammie decides to move back in with her abuser. He has promised to change and Tammie does not think she can raise a baby and two young children alone.
A few weeks after Tammie leaves shelter, she calls us on the crisis line crying and barely able to talk. She tells us things were great for awhile. She was enjoying home made steak dinners and she barely ever had to change a diaper. Tonight, she got into an argument with her boyfriend about the girls and he hit her. He said if she dared to leave him again, he would get a lawyer and file for full custody and placement of their son and she would never see him again. He also threatened to get the girls taken away because she was unfit mother and wouldn't take care of them. PAVE's legal advocate reassured Tammie that her boyfriend has no rights to the girls (who are not his children) and referred Tammie to local attorneys that have received training on assisting victims of violence. Tammie is offered shelter, but she refuses, too afraid to leave. We hope that she will call again if she needs us.
Child Protective Services (CPS) has referred Janet and her two children to PAVE for shelter. CPS has explained to Janet that if she did not take steps to protect the children, they would be removed from her care. The children, Amy age 5 and Jeffery age 7, have been removed from the home and placed in foster care before, due to their father, Ted's neglect. Janet is fearful about entering shelter because Ted threatened if Janet ever left him or did not comply with his sexual demands, he would make sure the children paid for her misbehavior in the worst ways. Janet has begrudgingly complied with CPS and she enters our shelter, hoping to protect her kids.
As soon as the family settles in at PAVE, it becomes apparent that the children do not understand how to show respect for each other, their mother, or the other children residing in shelter...likely due to the environment they grew up in. Jeffery calls his mother “bitch”, “whore” and worse every time she attempts to discipline him. He pushes and chokes his sister, Amy during minor disagreements and Amy slaps him back. Amy then seeks to take her aggression out on the other, younger children in shelter. This creates immediate tension between Janet and the rest of the adults in shelter that rightly want their children protected. With tears in her eyes and completely exhausted from the recent violent fight with her husband that forced her to transplant her family into shelter , Janet seeks guidance from our Children's Advocate. Janet and the children slowly begin to learn healthier ways to deal with conflict, including new communication and anger management skills. Janet learns about utilizing times outs, the importance of consistency in discipline and gets a sympathetic ear for her struggles.
The children try their best, but sometimes fall back into old behaviors. Amy usually will follow Janet's rules and accept time outs. However, when Amy is frustrated she takes to screaming and slamming doors in the shelter, frightening other families. The Children's Advocate teaches Amy to scream into a pillow when she is angry and suggests she ask Janet to utilize one of the free passes the YMCA has offered to PAVE's shelter clients to go swim off some steam. Jeffery, on the other hand, is convinced that if his dad were here, he would not have to listen to any of this. He continues to fight with Janet and Amy and it is a tense time in the shelter. After about a month, the children are required by court order to have some visits with Ted. Jeffery returns from these visits sullen, but much more willing to work with Janet and PAVE's Children's Advocate. Jeffery discloses that his dad had never been mean to him before, but at the last visit he told Jeffery he was sick of having to babysit him and Amy. Jeffery finally opens up and talks about how sad that makes him feel.
PAVE's Case Manager meets with Janet and a team of agencies and individuals including Lutheran Social Services, Child Protective Services, Victim Witness, Janet's pastor and Janet's counselor. PAVE is fortunate to have this opportunity because Janet signed a release agreeing to waive confidentiality among her service providers. If she had refused, PAVE would need to keep her services confidential and could not collaborate in this way. During meetings with PAVE's Case Manager, Janet learns about the cycle of violence. Janet is most surprised it is a cycle, with a honeymoon, or good period, happening to rebuild trust which is later abused to regain control. At first, Janet is angry about this realization, but comes to understand that she can actively make choices to change her situation.
Over several months of self esteem building and re-networking with her support system of family and friends, whom she had been isolated from, Janet shares that her true goal to move back to Florida. Ted is no longer seeking any visitation with the children, stating he cannot deal with their outbursts and he does not think he should be Janet's free babysitter, and agrees to a court order that maintains his custody rights but provides him with no visitation and allows Janet to move to Florida.
As Janet plans for her trip, she expresses concern over having enough money until she finds a new job and owning six more months of rent under her current lease. She works with PAVE's Legal Advocate to request that her landlord terminate her tenancy under the new Wisconsin safe housing laws. Janet provides her landlord with a copy of the criminal complaint against Ted and her landlord removes her from the lease. PAVE's Case Manager provides Janet with a taxi to the bus station from our Alliant Energy Grant and St. Vincent's and a few local churches help her with bus fair to Florida. PAVE's Sexual Assault Victim Advocate provides Janet with numbers for the advocacy program, like PAVE, in the community she is moving to, so she can begin to work through the sexual assault she endured with Ted.
About a month after Janet leaves, we receive a call from Karen. Karen is Ted's mother and grandmother to Amy and Jeffery. Karen begins by asking about Janet and the children. PAVE does not confirm or deny any information related to Janet. Karen then begins to discuss that she heard good things from Janet about PAVE, and Karen is really calling because she would like our help. Ted was unable to continue to pay rent on his own income after Janet moved to Florida. He has now moved back in with Karen and she is fearful of Ted and what he will do. Karen tells us she felt like she was going crazy, as she kept missing her medical appointments. When Karen told Ted about it, he said she must be getting senile. He promised to take care of her and never put her in a home. He suggested that Karen deposit her social security checks into his account and let him worry about the bills. Karen says she started receiving late and collection notices. She discovered her bills had never been paid. She is several months behind and afraid that she will loose her home that she remortgaged to pay Ted's attorney fees. Now truly concerned, Karen begins to look into her missed appointments and discovers that Ted has been calling to change them without telling her, creating a situation in which she would feel vulnerable. Karen does not want to report her son to law enforcement, as she believes he is a good person and would have turned out okay if his dad hadn't beat him. Karen starts meeting weekly with PAVE's Case Manager to try to get her life back on track.
Sara is in her late 40s and has lived her entire life in rural Wisconsin. She began seeking PAVE services through the crisis line. Sara disclosed she has a handful of neighbors, but does not see them often. The only time she really leaves the house is doctor appointments or to attend church and both of these she does with her husband. When her husband leaves the house, he takes all the keys with him so she is quite literally trapped at home.
Sara has adult children with her husband, but she does not communicate with them. Many years ago her daughter, who grew up in this violent home, offered to let Sara move in with her. Knowing this situation would throw her husband into a rage, Sara declined the offer. Her daughter has not spoken to either of them since. Sara is closest to her cats. The last time her and her husband got into an argument, he placed one of the cats in the freezer and threatened to leave it there indefinitely next time she disobeyed him.
Sara does not work, but receives disability as her only source of income. Her husband has signed and cashed her disability checks ever since she began receiving them over 10 years ago.
After several hours of options counseling, Sara reluctantly decides to enter shelter, believing it is the only way she will stay alive. Her cats are transported to the Humane Society, where they will be sheltered while Sara receives PAVE services.
Sara spends the first few days at PAVE sleeping. When she meets with staff she is groggy and difficult to understand, confusing the staff and Sara herself. As time passes, Sara comes to believe her husband may have been altering her medications in an attempt to kill her. She has disclosed that she struggles with mental health issues and regularly sees a doctor, so has a large variety and quantity of medications. While at PAVE she agrees to continue to work with her doctor to stabilize her medications and track proper dosing.
Sara is genuinely afraid to leave the shelter and refuses to discuss independently living during the first month of her stay for fear that her husband will find her. Sara is also not used to communal living and with many children also residing at PAVE, Sara finds it a difficult arrangement so spends much of her time in her room.
PAVE staff come to discover Sara's fear is well placed. Her husband has been repeatedly calling a variety of places – from her doctor's office to human services - looking for her. He also called PAVE on several occasions pretending to be everything from a handy man to their pastor to determine if she was residing here. PAVE staff continues to state to all callers that they cannot confirm nor deny whom we work with because Sara has not signed a release for PAVE to speak with anyone. Because of this heightened safety risk, staff is glad United Way of Watertown supported the installation of security cameras and new intercoms this year.
During her second month at shelter, Sara begins to consider a safety plan for living outside of shelter. She discusses the option of pursuing a restraining order with PAVE's legal advocate, but decides against it. Her husband has never hit her. Even though he has restrained her with enough force to leave bruises, no one ever witnesses this due to her extreme isolation.. As much as she believes her husband altered her medications, she has no proof. Sara has never called the police, but explains to PAVE's legal advocate that during an argument her husband bloodied his own nose, called the police and claimed she hit him. Neither person was arrested, but the police asked them both to keep their behavior in check.
Sara expresses fear of the legal system because she thinks her husband will use it to either have her involuntarily committed, due to her mental health issues or attempt to frame her for his death. He has threatened suicide in the past, saying he would tell friends and family it was her fault before taking his own life. Once, he stabbed himself in the leg and on the way to the hospital threatened her the entire way that he would blame her once they arrived. When he got there, he told the hospital that he hurt himself while working in the yard and explained to Sara how grateful she should be for his discretion.
During a support group discussion, Sara discloses she has considered leaving in the past, because of the isolation, control and frequent unwanted sexual contact by her husband. However, Sara believes herself to be a “good Christian woman” and did not want to do wrong by leaving her marriage. Once this is disclosed, PAVE refers Sara to one of the area churches, whose faith leaders have expressed an understanding of the dynamics of power and control and intimate partner violence. Sara expresses much relieve that she may continue with her strong faith practices in a safe place.
After three months of shelter living, Sara finally feels safe enough to find independent housing. She received a small amount of rental assistance from an Alliant Energy grant to PAVE and a food box when she was ready to move out. She continues to contact PAVE for economic assistance and to discuss her life transition
Maria is 27. She has three children– Amelia (8), Andrew (4) and Alisha (2). They came to stay at PAVE because Maria’s boyfriend, Nate,, threatened to kill her in a drunken rage. While Maria has been emotionally, verbally and physically abused by him for all three years of their relationship, he has never been physically violent around the children before. When she came to shelter, Maria reported that it is because all three children witnessed this recent event, she decided to flee. Maria is extremely worried about what Nate will do to try to see the children; Amelia and Andrew are from another relationship and not his children. Paternity has never been established, but Maria knows Alisha is Nate’s daughter and he will stop at nothing to see all three children. This becomes evident the next day when PAVE receives a call asking about Maria and her children from Human Services. Apparently, an anonymous report has been made that Maria beat Andrew for wetting the bed and she is now “hiding out” to avoid being caught for the abuse. PAVE Advocates have not yet talked to Maria about confidentiality waivers, required by law if PAVE is to speak to anyone about her, because Maria speaks very limited English. PAVE’s bilingual Advocate was only available to assist Maria for an hour when she came into shelter because she was needed by another client.
Once in shelter for a few days, Maria develops a safety plan and lists her goals with our Case Manager. One of Maria’s goals is to find work. However, she is afraid she will not be able to find a good job because the longest she has worked at a place has been 3 months. Before meeting Nate, she was on public assistance and did not work. Nate insisted they needed more money, so she got a job. As soon as Maria started working Nate harassed her at work, calling or driving by every few hours to make sure she was still there. Her employer, recognizing that Maria was distracted and not getting her work done let her go at her 30 day review. Nearly the same situation happened at her next employer, except that she kept up appearances for 3 months until the employer caught on. PAVE’s Case Manager got a confidentiality waiver signed to talk with the new employer Maria applied with and explained the history and situation. Maria’s new employer has chosen to work with her on this situation, going so far as to agree to relocate her to a workplace location closer to her new apartment when she is ready to leave shelter.
Maria assesses with PAVE’s Legal Advocate whether or not to move forward with a restraining order against Nate. Maria decides that because she feels safe and Nate does not know where she or the children are, she would rather not “rock the boat”. She also decides to not to apply for food stamps or childcare assistance, because she fears it would trigger a paternity action that would disclose her location. PAVE’s Legal Advocate explains the “good cause exception” to Maria and informs her that she could file the appropriate paperwork to try to prevent that from happening. Maria has distrust of “the system” and chooses to not apply for assistance or the exception.
Maria worked with PAVE’s Children’s Advocate to get Amelia registered for school when they arrived in shelter. However, Amelia frequently complains of stomach aches and other pains. Maria, feeling sympathy for Amelia, usually lets her stay home or go to school late. The school, properly calls every morning the child is not accounted for looking for her. Maria has not signed a confidentiality waiver for the school, because she is afraid her abuser will call there to get her location. Unfortunately, this means PAVE cannot confirm or deny anything about Maria to the school, making teachers and other staff worry about the children’s well-being. PAVE’s Children’s Advocate recognizes this as a warning sign and initiates a conversation with Amelia about her situation. The Children’s Advocate uncovers not only a lot of stress, but Amelia also discloses that Maria’s boyfriend had been coming to her room at night and hurting her. PAVE’s Sexual Assault Victim Advocate begins to meet with Maria and Amelia, and they find out Amelia has been keeping this secret for two years. Maria and Amelia continue to receive options-counseling from PAVE’s Sexual Assault Victim Advocate even after they move out of shelter.
Even though Maria is now working, she struggles to find housing that she can afford. After eight weeks in shelter, Maria and her family move out into their own apartment. Maria continues to come to group for support regarding her domestic violence situation, as this was put on the back burner once her daughter’s sexual abuse was disclosed. At support group, Maria begins to deal with her experience of domestic violence and focuses on making positive life changes. Hopefully, she will continue to be a client in 2009.