24 Jun Meeting Survivors Where They Are
When Tina made the decision to leave her abusive partner, she knew it would be difficult. She hadn’t realized, however, that in leaving behind an abusive relationship, she would also be leaving behind her only means of transportation.
Tina didn’t have a car of her own, she was unfamiliar with the local bus system, and she had a very limited income to spend on taxi fare or rideshare services.
She reached out to WTLC for assistance preparing for her upcoming restraining order hearing, but didn’t have a way to get to and from WTLC’s offices to meet with an Advocate.
Instead, Tina’s Legal Advocate went directly to her. Through WTLC’s Mobile Advocacy Program, Tina was able to prepare for the hearing in the comfort of her own home, with her Advocate explaining what to expect from start to finish, and helping her write down notes so she could feel confident she wouldn’t forget anything in the stress of the courtroom.
Tina’s Advocate also provided her with a bus pass to get to and from the courthouse the day of her hearing, helped look up the bus schedule, and explained the public transportation system so Tina felt comfortable that she could get to the courthouse on her own.
On the day of the hearing, Tina successfully caught a bus to meet her Advocate at the courthouse. Her Advocate sat by her side during the long and emotionally exhausting hearing, and Tina used the hearing preparation outline they had completed together to remember everything she needed to tell the judge. At the end of the hearing, the judge granted Tina a 5-year restraining order against the person who had abused her.
There are many challenges survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking face when making the decision to leave an abusive partner. One such challenge is a lack of transportation and mobility. This is often caused by issues such as a lack of funds for public transportation, the loss of an automobile, disability, and/or fear of being followed or seen by the person who caused them harm. Often abusive partners also intentionally maintain power and control over another person by restricting that person’s movement and transportation options. Beyond discouraging survivors from leaving an abusive situation, this also prevents survivors from receiving vital information about their rights after they do leave, and hindering their ability to safety plan for their future.
In response to an overwhelming need for accessible services, WTLC has made mobile advocacy a cornerstone of our services. Mobile advocacy allows a participant to pick a safe and convenient location to meet with an Advocate to receive services. These locations are flexible, and can include the participant’s home, a nearby coffee shop, a park, or another safe location.
Tina’s story was ultimately a success, in large part due to her ability to access services despite her limited transportation options. Tina was able to meet with her Advocate in a safe, comfortable, and convenient location, rather than having to figure out how to travel to WTLC’s offices. As a result, Tina gained the knowledge and courage she needed to persevere through a challenging court hearing and receive the restraining order she needed to remain safe as she continued in her recovery.