When Elisa* came to CAWC’s Greenhouse Shelter, she was 19. She had been dating her abuser, who was ten years older than her, since the age of 13.
At the young age of 14, Elisa moved into her abuser’s home, hoping to escape an abusive father who had raised her and her siblings. Her mother, also a victim of abuse, moved to another country shortly after Elisa was born.
Eisa and her three children, Sofia (4 years old), Ana (2 years old), and Jose (7 months old), came to live at Greenhouse Shelter to escape the physical and emotional abuse they had been experiencing since Lisa was 13 years old from her abuser, the father of all her three children and the baby she was currently pregnant with.
After thirteen years of living with an abusive father followed by six years of living with an abusive boyfriend, Elisa made the decision to leave her children’s father. She felt an extreme need to break the cycles of violence that had perpetuated her life from the time she was born.
Elisa hoped to be the best mother she could be by providing her children a life full of love, support, and free of violence. She knew that this would not be possible unless she got out of her current situation with her abuser and received domestic violence services for herself and her family.
When Elisa and her three kids arrived at Greenhouse Shelter, they were scared and anxious of what life in a shelter would entail for them. They had never received domestic violence services and found it all a bit foreign and intimidating, as they were not used to living in a house where they were free to be themselves and not lived scared of when the next bout of abuse would occur. With the support and guidance of the staff at the shelter, this family was able to get begin their healing process and have their own safe and loving home.
Working with their advocate at the shelter, Elisa began to map out plans and take action steps to support the safety and growth of her family. While at Greenhouse Shelter, Elisa received domestic violence support from the program that included services such as: individual counseling, parenting groups, family bonding services, legal advocacy, emergency transportation funds, housing advocacy, educational assistance, medical advocacy, life skills guidance, case management, economic assistance, employment assistance, and family trauma therapy. All three of her children were also able to receive services from the shelter program such as: individual counseling, siblings counseling, family meetings, educational assistance, participation in children’s activities/groups, and family trauma therapy. Through the support that Elisa and her children received from the staff at Greenhouse shelter, Elisa was able to put a stop on the cycle of violence that had shaped her life for 19 years as well as begin to provide a life free of violence for herself and her kids.
In the course of the three months that Elisa received these services from the Greenhouse Shelter Program and through the advocacy of the shelter staff, she was able to find a job and secure her own 3-bedroom apartment for her family. The apartment was in an ideal location far away from her abuser, a safe and stable unit, located close to her new job, and nearby the children’s daycare.
Elisa’s story and that of her children is just one of the many domestic violence survivor stories that come through the Greenhouse Shelter Program. Elisa was able to put an end to the cycle of violence and abuse that she had experienced from her father and ex-boyfriend with the help of the program and advocates at the shelter who were ready to help Elisa’s family.
*Name changed to protect confidentiality.
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