How Caring Unlimited Helped Lisa and Sheila Make A Fresh Start
Each year approximately 3,000 people in York County ask for help at Caring Unlimited. This is how we help...
When Lisa and Sheila needed to flee their homes to become safe from abusive partners, they called Caring Unlimited’s 24-hour Hotline. Their calls were answered by trained advocates who listened to their stories, offered emotional support and helped them create a safety plan by giving them information about options available to them. They were informed about emergency shelter and how to get the support and advocacy they would need to deal safely and successfully with the myriad issues facing them as they sought to get safe from abusers who were very angry and intent on regaining control over them and the children through any means necessary.
After working out the details of their escape with a hotline advocate, Lisa and Sheila arrived at Caring Unlimited’s Emergency Shelter (a few months apart) with their children and little more than the clothes they wore and lots of uncertainty about what was next for them. Now they were temporarily safe but how could they afford food, clothing, gas? Where would they live after leaving the shelter and how would they support themselves and their children and continue to protect them from abusers who continued to pursue them.
They soon learned that the shelter was well-stocked with food and needed personal care items. They got clothing at the Caring Unlimited Donations Center and discovered that when the time came they could get furniture and household items needed to start over at the Donations Center as well. And most importantly, they met their advocates at shelter who seemed confident they’d be able to help them find answers to the rest of their questions.
Legal Assistance for Victims
Many people like Lisa and Sheila are unable to protect themselves from abusive partners without legal support. The police are often unable to intervene to protect them prior to an assault unless the victim has a Protection From Abuse Order. And when a victim has lost hope that the violence in her relationship will ever end, court orders for divorce and child custody are often necessary to help constrain an abuser from choosing to continue the violence.
Caring Unlimited’s Legal Assistance Program offers a qualified attorney, fully-trained in the dynamics of domestic abuse, and specialized domestic violence court advocates to provide the only source of legal assistance for victims in York County.
Outreach Services – Support and Education Groups
Both Lisa and Sheila, like all victims of domestic violence, found themselves increasingly isolated from friends, family and other supports during their marriages. People who choose to abuse their partner require that they live in isolation from natural supports in order to maintain power and control over them. That isolation must be broken before a victim of domestic violence can truly become safe.
Battered women and their children find a safe place to tell their stories, express their pain and renew their strength through connection with the mutual peer support that occurs weekly at Caring Unlimited Support Groups held weekly at our Resource Centers in Biddeford, Limerick, Kittery and Sanford.
Transitional Housing and Services—A Fresh Start
“But where will we live?” Given the prevalence of domestic violence and lack of affordable housing in York County, this is a monumental obstacle faced by those seeking to permanently end an abusive relationship. When safe affordable housing is nowhere to be found battered women often have no choice but to return with their children to abusive relationships in order to avoid homelessness.
Both Lisa and Sheila were fortunate that when it was time for them to leave the Emergency Shelter, there were openings at Caring Unlimited’s Transitional Housing & Services Program which offers safe, affordable housing with a full complement of supportive services for up to 24 months.
On entry into the program formerly battered women establish a goal plan for the continued safety and future economic security of their families. The plan includes action steps and a timeline for finding permanent housing and accessing job training or education that will enable them to earn a living wage to ensure that they will be able to adequately support their families after leaving the program.
During their time in the program, both Lisa and Sheila took advantage of a variety of opportunities offered by Caring Unlimited to help them meet their goals. One of those important resources were scholarships offered by The Sunshine Lady Foundation through Caring Unlimited sponsorships that made it possible for the women to enroll in, and successfully complete four-year degree programs at the University of Maine system. Today, both Lisa and Sheila have moved on from Caring Unlimited’s Transitional Program. They remain safe from their former abusers, their children are thriving and they both hold professional positions in their chosen fields.
Theirs are but two of the stories of formerly battered women who made a Fresh Start at Caring Unlimited and made it shine for all it was worth!