Reclaim Your Life

*The survivor’s name has been changed in this story to protect their identity.

Lauren* took the first step toward regaining control of her life by calling the Safe Families Office at the Fulton County Courthouse to find out what it would take to get a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) against her husband. During her initial phone call, Lauren began describing her physical abuse and quickly transitioned to discussing how isolated and powerless she felt. She had no family in the state and few friends. Lauren had a toddler and new baby, and described how she was holding one of her children when her husband pushed her, causing her to drop the child. She explained that her husband had drained their bank account and refused to give her any money. She was completely dependent on her abuser and was emotionally broken.

Lauren was ready to take the second step on her road to a life free of violence and successfully obtained a Temporary Protective Order (TPO), resulting in her husband leaving the home. This occurred at the same time as the world was shutting down due to COVID-19. Lauren found herself alone in a house with two children, unemployed due to her recent pregnancy, and unable to get a job because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her living expenses were growing, she had no financial resources, no means of transportation, no one to help her with her babies and no emotional support. Lauren began to wonder if she had made a huge mistake by taking out the TPO and felt more alone and isolated than ever.

PADV and the Safe Families Office stepped in to offer the emotional, financial and legal support that Lauren needed, showing Lauren that she did have options and was not alone. PADV’s Legal Advocate helped Lauren create a plan for continuing her self-sufficiency. She was contacted by the PADV Mental Health Advocate and began attending a weekly PADV support group via Zoom. PADV was able to provide Lauren with emergency financial assistance that allowed her to stay in her home and connected her to resources that could help with future living expenses. Soon after filing for the TPO, Lauren’s abuser tried to use the legal system to harass and intimidate her. The Safe Families Office provided Lauren with legal representation for her TPO case and assisted her in filing for divorce.

As Lauren began to see that there were people and organizations to support her, she started to think about getting a job and going back to school. The Safe Families Office provided information on resources to help make this happen. With new insight, support and hope, Lauren has made giant steps to take back control of her life and build a new, safe life for herself and her children.