In the summer of 2017, I left Delaware to follow my former husband to Missouri with the hope he would fulfill his promise to “change.” I quickly found out that the violence only grew worse and my life and the lives of my children were in constant danger. I filed a PFA and fled back to Delaware. I was in two shelters and an Amish woman’s home during this time. This was of course all during the holiday season. I was granted Emergency Jurisdiction here in Delaware.
When I filed my PFA, my abuser wiped and closed our joint account. In that account was my special needs child adoption subsidy (I adopted her from foster care long before I met my abuser) and child support for my other daughter from a previous relationship. He immediately went and stopped payments on all MY bills and even went as far as to go into the local YMCA where my children were involved in activities to cancel their membership. I had worked for the state of Delaware at Southern Elementary as a paraprofessional and I had requested to take out my retirement since I had worked less than 5 years in the school district. My former husband changed the locks on the PO box to prevent me from getting my check. I had no job and no income in Missouri. I was able to get the check, but the post office would only hold my mail for 10 days. This was the only money I had. It was $1200. I used that money to retain a lawyer in Delaware since no other lawyer would take my case including the free lawyers. In Missouri, I was stalked, harassed, and my stuff was stolen. He also had a friend call Children and Youth on me. Thankfully, the caseworker laughed and dismissed it. I want to point out that my daughter is adopted from foster care so this was especially a low blow to me. The PFA was constantly violated. I needed a safe place for myself and my children.
In Missouri my former husband violated the PFA numerous times but those who were supposed to protect me and my children did nothing. My free PFA lawyer didn’t even show up to court and wanted to know why I couldn’t make it work with my abuser? My former husband filed for sole custody and divorce the day before the PFA hearing. The judge granted visitation on the PFA even though I had no friends or family in Missouri and would have to see my abuser every other weekend. Yes at a PFA hearing, visits were granted. The police refused to watch our exchanges since it would make them liable for my safety. However, these were the reasons I was granted Emergency Jurisdiction. I fled back to Delaware to Family Promise, since all of the women shelters were full. Family Promise was a huge blessing for my children and I. Delaware has proven to be state that protects victims of domestic violence and is full of people who truly care.
During my time at Family Promise we were provided with a safe and loving environment for myself and my children. The churches we stayed at provided food and comfort. We felt more like guests than homeless. We were treated with dignity and respect. My children enjoyed their time at the churches. The volunteers went out of their way to provide games, toys, and clothes. It was one LESS thing I had to worry about as I fought for the safety of myself and my children. I was quickly able to get my job back at Southern, a car, sole custody of my son, and access to government programs that have helped me along the way. None of this would have been possible without Family Promise.
I am forever grateful for all the love, support, and shelter that was provided to me.