Stories of Healing and Hope: Ashley’s Crisis

Posted by on Feb 20, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

After driving 20 hours straight from Virginia, and arriving in Minnesota with no shelter, no money, and no resources, Ashley and her 3 young children found themselves at the doorstep of DAP’s Advocacy offices. Ashley was fleeing her abuser. She fled to Minnesota because she had family here – but they couldn’t take her in – she was afraid that her abuser would follow her and harm her and her family if he found her. Ashley felt hopeless as she arrived to the offices in her beat-up van in search of help, after closing. Just as they were locking up, an advocate noticed Ashley, physically and emotionally drained, approach the door.

Ashley was a victim of years of continued physical abuse at the hands of her husband, and she had been scared to leave because she wasn’t sure what resources she would have to care for her three children without her husband’s income. Recently, however, she had reached her breaking point and decided to seek the help she desperately needed. On this late Friday afternoon, Ashley and the Advocate sat down to begin the intake process immediately. Having no resources at her disposal, it was important to provide Ashley with referrals for shelter and food for her and her children.

After Ashley was safely set up in a local shelter, the advocates met with her a week later to focus on completing the documentation seeking an Order for Protection. An Order for Protection is a legal document issued by a state court which requires one person to stay away from another person in situations where there is domestic violence. The Advocates continued to accompany Ashley to all the court hearings about her Order for Protection, explaining the process as it happened.

Ashley’s story is just one example of the work our Advocates do day in and day out with victims of domestic abuse. In any given day, Advocates call victims listed in police reports from the night before, attend domestic violence court to support victims, meet with walk-in and appointment clients to assess their immediate needs, and write orders for protection, among many other tasks. Their role is to be responsive to victims in crisis.

As a DAP Advocate, Nora Smyth explained, “Advocates must be assertive, flexible, compassionate, open minded, supportive, and resourceful as they provide direct services to people in need.” For example, when Ashley had her first meeting with an Advocate, it was vital for the advocate to complete a thorough intake, because any information shared with the Advocates about abuse or the clients’ needs related to safety, can be brought into a court hearing related to the abuse.

Like many of our Advocates, Nora was drawn toward advocacy because she is herself a survivor of domestic violence. She felt her firsthand experience with abuse would allow her to relate to the victims’ situations and express compassion and understanding even when the victim finds the abuse unspeakable. She does this work to help restore hope for clients when the feel hopeless. Often domestic violence victims have no support system and have lost everything at the hands of their abuser. But our Advocates are often the first step in a new beginning for these victims.

For Ashley, the path to separating from her husband completely was a long one. The Advocates supported Ashley through multiple court hearings and dismissals. Ashley was never able to secure an order for protection, but she was able to restart a new life in Minnesota, states away from the abuse. Through the ups and downs of this process, Ashley was grateful to have the advocacy team by her side. It made all the difference that there were people who believed her story and helped her find strategies for staying safe. Indeed, amidst all the many tasks, this is what Advocates do best – restore hope to the lives of domestic abuse victims.

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