Jamaican born Mia and her 2-year-old daughter Lisa came to the shelter to escape the violent temper of her husband. The abuse, she said, was both physical and verbal. The final straw was when Lisa came to Mia one day and hugged her, and said, don’t cry mama.
With the assistance of the legal Outreach Program Advocates, Mia obtained a Temporary Protective Order against her husband. At the 30-day hearing, he protested so loudly to her allegations that the judge asked him to leave the courtroom or go to jail.
Her husband, a professional, well-educated man, didn’t stop the harassment there. Even though he was court ordered to pay child support, he refused. After a hearing one day where he was once again told to pay child support or risk going to jail, he caught up with Mia outside the courthouse. He provoked her to the point she gave him a shove and told him to leave her alone. Later that day, the police showed up at the shelter with a simple battery warrant for her arrest.
But Mia, determined to have a better life for herself and Lisa, continued working with SAFE Shelter case managers until she finally not only found a job, but an apartment where rent was based on income. During her ordeal, she was also working with the Outreach Program and an immigration attorney to help her gain citizenship.
Today, Lisa is a beautiful, happy little girl who takes dancing lessons and loves school. Mia is still employed at a local retail store and is participating in the SAFE Shelter’s Follow-up/After Care Program. A frequent visitor to the shelter, she stopped by my office the other day to say hello. As we were catching up, she told me she was seriously considering joining the Army and had in fact already talked to a recruiter. She told me she wants more out of life than retail sales and had always dreamed of going to college. Joining the Army, she said, would be her ticket out and onto life on her terms.