Sandra Cass* first came to NLSLA through one of the organization’s Self-Help Legal Access Centers, seeking assistance with a temporary restraining order against her abuser. She had been with the man, who is the father of her three children, since she was 15 years old, and had developed a drinking problem in her attempts to cope with the constant abuse.
The Self-Help team referred Sandra to NLSLA’s immigration advocates, who began the process of applying for a special visa for victims of domestic violence. The advocates quickly realized Sandra needed additional supports, and connected her to NLSLA’s social work team for therapy and social services.
“We find that survivors of domestic violence often require a great deal of social and emotional supports—in additional to legal services—to begin the path towards independence,” said Cinthya Islas, associate director of social work. “They are dealing with trauma, which makes it so much more difficult to navigate what is already a complex and overwhelming legal process.”
Sandra joined NLSLA’s domestic violence education group to learn more about healthy relationships and to develop coping skills that helped her throughout the difficult legal proceedings. Meanwhile, the NLSLA family law team assisted Sandra in obtaining a restraining order and custody of her children.
Thanks to the collaborative efforts of NLSLA’s Self-Help team, immigration attorneys, family law attorneys, and social workers, Sandra is now living a life free from violence. She is engaged in therapeutic services—both on her own and with her children—and has been sober for more than a year. She recently received her employment authorization, and is currently enrolled in classes to get her GED.
The extensive, coordinated services Sandra received at NLSLA gave her hope for a better future. And while she is often overwhelmed by all the changes in her life, Sandra said she is the happiest she has been since she can remember.
*Name of client has been changed to protect confidentiality.