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Benjamin*, 27, initially connected with CAWC through our Multi Disciplinary Teams program. A physical and verbal altercation between Benjamin and his (now) ex-boyfriend was overheard by a neighbor, who called the police. CPD’s 14th district police responded, and upon identifying physical evidence of abuse on Benjamin, they gave Benjamin the option to complete a Domestic Violence Risk Assessment. Benjamin screened as high risk because he noted that the offender had previously threatened him with a weapon, had access to a gun, and had previously prevented him from leaving, seeking assistance, or calling the police.  Benjamin signed the assessment, allowing the form to be sent to CAWC and he requested a call back from a CAWC DV Counselor/Advocate.  CAWC responds to MDT assessments right away, and an advocate contacted Benjamin.

When Benjamin spoke to the Counselor/Advocate, he described the physical assaults and sexual abuse that he regularly experienced at the hands of his ex-boyfriend.  Benjamin noted that the verbal abuse, insults, and manipulation sometimes made him feel as if he didn’t deserve to be treated better. Benjamin had experienced trauma as a child – starting at the age of seven. He shared with the staff that he had no emotional support from family.  He felt like what he was experiencing was his fault. With no job and little money, Benjamin was financially dependent on his ex-boyfriend, with whom he lived.

Benjamin expressed a desire to end the relationship and to find a new, safe place to live.

Benjamin was in need of urgent safe accommodation, and he was enrolled in CAWC’s Emergency Shelter Hotel program. Through the program, not only did he have access to a safe place to live but he received daily contact with his counselor, emotional support, and resources. Benjamin received DV education and begin to realize that he was not responsible for the abuse.  He told his counselor “I didn’t deserve to be treated the way that I was. If I didn’t leave when I did, I really think he would have killed me”.

Benjamin worked with CAWC’s housing specialist, and was accepted into the All Chicago Accelerated Moving Event. Through that program, he received housing and utilities assistance for a full year. Benjamin left the hotel with something that would help him as he moved forward – he left with hope. He expressed to his counselor that “it changed my life to know that someone actually cared enough to help me”.

Every survivors story is different, CAWC strives to help survivors identify, then access the resources they need to live an empowered life free from violence.

*Names in this story have been changed to protect privacy