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Lisa’s Story

Lisa reached Independence House the first time at 2:15am in the middle of the night through our 24-hour hotline as she sat in a dark car in the driveway of the home she shared with her husband of 8 years and her 6 year old son.  She had an extremely difficult evening earlier with her husband who had been both physically abusive and psychologically manipulative to her. Her husband was finally asleep after having a few late-night drinks and Lisa decided she needed to reach out for help. As she sat in the car, she detailed to the Independence House counselor in a low whispering voice so not to be heard that the abuse had been escalating over the past months and what made things worse was that her husband’s job had him working remotely from home since the Covid lockdown. He never left the home and she was never alone without him being there. He would not allow her to leave the house and had all of the items they ever needed delivered.  Because Lisa was a stay-at-home Mom, she had no income and her husband controlled the only bank account which was in his name.  Lisa’s husband alienated her from her family and friends over time which began when she had phone conversations with them that most often resulted in a confrontation once the calls ended because her husband did not approve of the content of the conversations she was having.  The confrontations escalated to physical abuse, and with that the controlling behavior increased to the point that Lisa felt unsafe using her own bathroom many times.  

The abuse she continuously suffered often took place in front of their son who was beginning to show the effects of witnessing it.  Up to her son’s 5th birthday, he was a happy and playful child who asked a lot of questions that children always ask as they grow up, like “why is the sky blue”, “does Mickey live at Disneyland?”, and “how do birds fly?”   But these questions over the past few months began taking a turn to questions like, “why does daddy get so angry?”, and “why did daddy hurt you today?”  Lisa also felt something was not right when her son began wetting the bed after 2+ successful years of that not happening.  

Our Independence House counselor talked with Lisa that first night and offered for her to leave the home and find a safe location, but Lisa indicated she was not ready to leave and would not go without her son also being safe too.  Our Independence House counselor worked out a scheduled time for Lisa to call back when it was safe for her to do so and together they began working on a safety plan.   

One evening approximately a week later, Lisa’s safety plan was in place, but before she could initiate action, her husband’s physical abuse escalated to a point of harm to where Lisa was injured.  She again waited until the middle of the night to reach our 24-hour hotline from the family car and was able with the help of the Independence House counselor get the proper assistance.  Too frightened to call 911, the Independence House counselor encouraged Lisa to drive from her home with her son to a secure location where she was able to receive assistance by a police officer to file a report and obtain an emergency restraining order.  Lisa was then provided a secure location for the evening and was assisted by our thoughtful and attentive SAFEPLAN court advocates in the morning who guided Lisa with the proper paperwork she needed to complete in order to extend the 24 hour restraining order.  This gave Lisa time to take a deep breath, enter our emergency confidential residence with her son, and agree to seek medical attention for her injuries.   

During Lisa’s 4 months at the emergency residence, she received direct counseling from a caring and understanding Independence House Adult Domestic Violence counselor and her son received counseling from a gentle and compassionate Child Witness to Violence counselor.  In a short time, Lisa’s son was able to successfully enroll in school and during his time at school, Lisa was completing financial counseling and working with Independence House counselors on self-care, coping skills and learning how to be independent again. Lisa soon began applying for jobs and in her success was able to begin saving money into her own bank account.  With the assistance of our Housing Stabilization program, Lisa was successful in gaining a place she can call home for up to 3 years while she continues to excel and take part in Independence House services, save money and looks forward to moving to her own independent living home in the very near future.