Whether your story is similar to Ana's or not, know that help is available now. You are not alone. See Rights of crime victims and witnesses.
Help is available for domestic abuse and sexual assault victims:
- Safety planning
- Order of Protection for domestic abuse (restraining order)
- Civil No Contact order for sexual assault (restraining order)
- Financial education
- Access to public benefits (like food stamps), public benefits for immigrants
- Immigrants who are victims of crime
- Sexual assault in universities
At first, Ana wasn’t sure if her husband’s behavior was abuse. He controlled their money and watched every purchase she made. He didn’t like when she spent time with her family and friends. Sometimes, he called her names and accused her of cheating. But he always said he was sorry. He told her he acted this way because he loved her so much.
As time went on, Ana’s husband began to hurt her. He grabbed her during fights, sometimes so hard that he left bruises. She thought about telling someone or leaving, but was afraid of what he might do. However, after her husband punched her in the face in front of their children, Ana decided she needed to get help.
While her husband was at work, Ana went to her church where she felt safe. She talked to her pastor. He gave her the number to a hotline that could help her plan to be safe. He also encouraged her to talk to a family member that she trusted and could help her if she decided to leave her husband.
Ana told her sister about the abuse. Her sister was very understanding and offered to help in any way she could. Ana then called the hotline, where someone helped her come up with a safety plan that included the steps she needed to take to escape the abuse. She made a list of the people and places that could help her.
Ana packed a couple of bags with her and her children’s essentials, including medications and important documents. Her sister picked up the bags and agreed to hold onto them at her apartment.
Ana could tell there was something wrong with her nose from when her husband hit her. She went to a local clinic and was treated for a broken nose. But the doctor noticed more than Ana's broken nose. He saw the bruises on her arms where her husband grabbed her and asked Ana if someone was harming her. Ana said her husband had punched her.
The doctor explained that help was available, including counseling and support groups. The doctor also told Ana that he was required to report abuse. He encouraged Ana to talk to the police so that she and her children would be protected from further abuse.
Ana needed protection right away, so the court entered an Emergency Order of Protection along with the criminal charges. It took effect as soon as the judge signed it. The order required Ana’s husband to stay away from her and not make contact with her and her children for 21 days.
Ana and her children stayed at her sister’s apartment while she figured out her next steps. Her husband followed the Order of Protection and she was relieved that her children were out of harm’s way. She also continued to work with the police and the prosecutor on her case.
Ana needed money to get on her feet and become financially independent from her husband. She applied online for public benefits including Medicaid, SNAP, LINK and TANF. She also began to look for a job.
While the criminal case against Ana’s husband was ongoing, Ana decided she wanted a divorce. Because she was a victim of abuse, Ana found a free legal aid program to help her. Her lawyer was able to help Ana file for divorce and child support.