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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Our Client Advocacy program seeks remedies for victims of crime – primarily related to domestic violence and sexual assault against immigrant and low-income individuals living in Pierce County.

Read a client’s story on their journey to safety:

Jennifer’s story is one of courage, resilience and a second chance. Born and raised in Kenya, Jennifer has always carried the spirit of determination in her. When she was 25 years old, she went into business for herself. She cultivated some land where she grew and sold watermelons. In the midst of her already stable life, she met, fell in love with, and married a US Army man stationed in Kenya. Together they moved to England and after a year and half there, they relocated to the Pacific Northwest. The relationship quickly became abusive and knowing her life was in danger, Jennifer escaped. She found her way to Spokane, WA and lived there in a women’s shelter. Jennifer’s advocate worked tirelessly to get her connected to social services that would help her gain control of her life. Knowing that she’d have more access to comprehensive social services in Western Washington, Jennifer was referred to the YWCA of Tacoma and began receiving counseling through their Violence against Women Act (VAWA) programs which ensures employment stability and economic security for survivors of violence. However, because Jennifer was also an immigrant, the YWCA referred her to Tacoma Community House where she was able to get both legal help in severing ties with her abuser and immigration assistance that would put her on the pathway to citizenship and give her access to myriad resources.

When asked to share her thoughts about Tacoma Community House, Jennifer said, “TCH is a very impressive place. Their help has been far beyond anything I could imagine. Not only have they helped me heal from my past, but they have helped me reach new heights by assisting me with my immigration status in connection with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP).” NWIRP promotes justice by defending and advancing the rights of immigrants through direct legal services, advocacy and community education. Part of NWIRP’s services include partnering with other organizations like Tacoma Community House in helping its program participants navigate policies and procedures that cater to their varying immigration needs, including helping survivors of domestic violence obtain U visas, conditional permanent residence or an I-360 which are all special pathways to citizenship for survivors of domestic violence.

Jennifer is grateful that TCH was not only committed to her survival but wanted her to thrive. “I don’t think I would be at this point on my journey without Tacoma Community House. The staff has been my pillar of strength throughout this process. In spite of everything I was going through, because of TCH, I knew I was going to be OK.” Jennifer was certified to work under the conditional permanent resident status which gives residency to the immigrant partner of a US citizen for 2 years upon the dissolution of their marriage. Under this status, Jennifer applied for a job as a firefighter and even went through the initial process to be part of the US Army.“ I wanted to prove to everyone that I was strong. Though none of those positions was the right fit, trying them out was a result of the new-found confidence I’d gained because of Tacoma Community House.”

Jennifer landed the right job in medical billing and coding; working at a physical therapy facility. “I have the pleasure of meeting people and through conversation I get to remind them that though they are in pain from an injury, they will heal again.” She expressed special excitement in having the opportunity to assist the Seattle Sounders, who use the facility she works at. While enjoying her accomplishments, Jennifer continues to work with Tacoma Community House’s legal advocates to become a permanent resident without condition and she will eventually apply for citizenship.

Healing has come for Jennifer in surprising and unexpected ways. In addition to her newfound job and stability, Jennifer was able to find her aunt and uncle who left Kenya when Jennifer was 10 years old, in Seattle.  “It’s been wonderful to reconnect with them. Now, my parents in Kenya get to rest easy knowing that I am fully surrounded by love. I have so much to be grateful for. It took many caring advocates to get me where I am today.” The journey for Jennifer began the moment she took charge of her life and sought help at the women’s shelter in Spokane. It took a good turn with the help of the YWCA and she has taken the final step in reclaiming full ownership of her life because of Tacoma Community House.

Interested in supporting clients like Jennifer? Make a contribution today.

Finding Safety through Client Advocacy

Paulina was born and raised in Peru. An intelligent woman, Paulina flourished in school and became an attorney. Through her work she met her husband, who promised her the world. Excited at the prospect of spending her life with the man she loved, she moved to America to be with him.

Once they arrived in the U.S. they married. Shortly thereafter Paulina’s husband became emotionally and physically abusive. The violence continued even when Paulina was pregnant. When she gave birth to their child, he refused to recognize his daughter. A paternity test was done and the results were positive, but he still did not wish to be in the child’s life. Paulina tried to live with the man she thought she loved, but he wanted nothing to do with her or the baby and threatened to have her deported.

Paulina came to United States with hopes of a prosperous future with her husband, a U.S. citizen. However, her dreams quickly faded when her husband became violent. Paulina lived in constant fear and was a prisoner in her own home. At one point, she was afraid she was going to die and leave her family all alone.

After three years of physical and emotional abuse, Paulina had had enough. She no longer wanted to be afraid. She sought help and was referred to Tacoma Community House. Through the Client Advocacy program, Paulina had help finding housing and received public assistance, immigration services and social security. She thanks her advocate for helping her and her family reach stability and security.

Additionally, with her advocate‘s assistance, she and her family are now permanent residents. Paulina says it was her advocate’s encouragement that gave her the strength she needed to keep moving forward. She never thought she’d get out of the rough spot she was living in, but her determination and tenacity helped pave the way for stability for herself and her family.

Paulina recently completed ESL classes at TCH. She knew learning English is necessary so she can communicate with others, navigate the bus system, understand the culture, and much more. She plans on furthering her education so she can provide for her family. For the brief time she’s been volunteering with the Juvenile Court, Paulina has been recognized for being smart and a quick learner. Her goal is to, once again, work in the court system — this time as a paralegal.

“Tacoma Community House is essential for the community,” Paulina shared. She hopes one day she can pay it forward and give back to the organization that helped her get back on her feet.

Interested in helping women like Paulina? Support our Client Advocacy program by making a contribution today and/or by donating Orca cards or gift cards.

If you are interested in learning more about client advocacy, please contact the Client Advocacy Manager Rocio Chavez de Alvarado.

Meet Shakira

For many, the immigrant experience brings many challenges beyond learning a new language. Shakira came to Tacoma Community House fleeing an emotional and physically abusive relationship — she was afraid, spoke no English and was financially insecure —  having left her family and friends in Colombia, Shakira felt alone.

“When I came for the first time, I thought life was hard. My advocate at TCH taught me that it wasn’t difficult.”

Client Advocacy gave her the freedom and the courage she needed to start a new life with her two sons. She was provided with legal advocacy and attained her U-visa, paving the way to self-sufficiency and success.

Being an ambitious woman, Shakira took English as a Second Language and Adult Basic Education classes at TCH. She excelled in all of her studies. She quickly learned English and soon after transferred to Highline Community College to further her education and pursue a career in Nursing. To help finance her education and care for her two sons, Shakira attained her license to start her own cleaning business. She hopes to expand the business by hiring others and managing the business while going to school. “I feel free, I don’t depend on anyone. No one is controlling me or being abusive. I am not afraid and I speak English now!”

Grateful for the services she received at TCH, Shakira intends on paying it forward. By using her testimony, she hopes to encourage other women who have experienced similar hardships to come out of the shadows and leave behind their abusive partners. She plans to volunteer with TCH in the future and provide support and encouragement for other women. Four years ago, Shakira didn’t know how to speak English, didn’t have a driver’s license, didn’t have a job and wasn’t going to school. Today, Shakira knows how to speak English, owns her own business and is going to college. “Today, I look back and have come so far and would not have done it without TCH.”

Interested in helping women like Shakira? Support our client advocacy program by making a contribution today and/or by donating Orca cards or gift cards.

If you are interested in learning more about client advocacy, please contact the Client Advocacy Manager Rocio Chavez de Alvarado.