Marissa, a 40-year-old female, came to the Women’s Resource Center shelter with her three daughters, ages 11, 8, and 5 years old. They were fleeing abuse by Marissa’s ex-husband, who was also the father of her daughters. He had been emotionally and verbally abusive to her throughout the marriage, as well as limiting her financial independence. His physical abuse of her had recently escalated; her request for shelter was precipitated by his choking her on the floor in front of the children.
The family had a cat to whom the girls were deeply attached. This cat was able to enter the WRC Pet Safe Haven program. The veterinary clinic boarded him for the family’s entire stay at the shelter. The family visited him frequently and were able to spend time with him in a private room at the vet.
Marissa worked closely with the Domestic Violence Program Coordinator to identify the patterns of abuse and control in her life. In addition to her husband, her father, who lived locally, had been and continued to be very verbally abusive of her. However, Marissa was close to her stepmother and did not want to cease contact with her father and stepmother. The Domestic Violence Program Coordinator helped her navigate this difficult relationship, especially in conjunction with her ongoing feelings of low self-worth.
Marissa also met with the Domestic Violence Counselor regarding her anxiety. The Counselor helped her learn relaxation and mindfulness techniques to help her focus on present goals and cope with post-traumatic stress symptoms. Counseling also helped Marissa to be more emotionally present and connected with her daughters.
The Driver/Counselor worked closely with Marissa to identify her housing needs and realistic options. Because she wished to keep her daughters in the same schools and did not have her own transportation, she utilized the services of the Driver/Counselor to look at potential housing in the rural county where she had previously lived. The Driver/Counselor also worked with Marissa on applying for TANF and provided resources and support in Marissa’s efforts to get child support from her ex-husband. This process was complex and frustrating for Marissa. Her only income came from selling homemade jewelry online, which had been the only way she could earn money due to her ex-husband’s controlling behavior, so getting benefits was essential to meeting her family’s basic needs.
In the shelter Marissa bonded with other residents who gave emotional support. She also received daily support from the housekeeper through supportive discussions and reinforcement of appropriate behavior and boundaries with her daughters. Marissa found cleaning to be therapeutic and worked alongside the housekeeper in keeping the residential area clean.
After a month, Marissa found a three-bedroom home near her daughters’ schools. Despite multiple applications for the house, the landlord leased it to Marissa because he had worked with the WRC shelter in the past and wanted to prioritize helping families in need. Marissa continues to be in touch with shelter staff and is maintaining her housing.
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