Taking on a New World
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here is a story of transformation from despair to hope.
34-year-old Alicia* is a mother of two who came to New York from El Salvador last year. She is a very ambitious young woman with a strong desire to make the best of her opportunities in the United States so she quickly enrolled in classes to learn English-as-a-Second-Language. But there is something else you should know about her: Alicia is a victim of domestic violence.
When Alicia first arrived in the United States, she was full of hope. Her husband Paco* had arranged to bring her and the children with the promise of a better life for their family. However, the couple’s transition to their new home was not easy and Paco became very abusive. So before she had time to get used to living in the U.S., Alicia had to seek protection for her herself and her children in an Emergency Shelter.
Earlier this year Alicia moved into Athena House, which is a shelter for victims of domestic violence, owned and operated by Services for the UnderServed. Thanks to the safe and secure surroundings that S:US provided for her, Alicia felt confident enough to take part in S:US’ Sanctuary for Families Empowerment Program, a 4-month career readiness course. This equipped her with the literacy, technology and other job-related skills she needed to break the cycle of poverty, homelessness and partner-related abuse. She also trained as a Home Health Aide and was granted rental assistance to secure housing. In fact, as this story is being written Alicia is signing her lease!
Alicia is very excited about taking on new challenges and is now optimistic about the future that lies ahead for herself and her children.
* Real name not disclosed