By: Juliana Hernandez, South Valley Coordinator
In November 2018, a young lady walked into the South Valley Satellite office in Anthony requesting assistance. She reported that she had just been released from the Dofia Ana County Detention Center after being arrested, charged with battery on a household member, and released on her own recognizance. She was in fear and reported that she had been the one to call 911 as her husband had a history of violence. In 2012, her husband was charged with strangulation, found guilty, sentenced and deported. After trying to make in on her own for about a year, she returned to the relationship. She has several children, all under the age of 11.
During her walk-in crisis with La Casa, Inc. staff, client shared that as she was on the phone with law enforcement when her husband threatened her and told her that the police would believe him over her. He then bashed his head against the frame of their bedroom door. Client appeared to be the aggressor due to the severity of the injury on her partner’s face. Client attempted to explain to the officers what had happened; however, her limited use of the English language created a barrier. As a result, client was arrested and charged with assault.
South Valley staff assisted client with obtaining a restraining order, which was not an easy feat due to the criminal charges pending against her. The advocacy and determination of all staff resulted in client successfully obtaining a restraining order. La Casa, Inc. staff went on to assist her in her criminal case. Lo and behold, all criminal charges against her were dismissed!
“I remember sitting in criminal court beside my client and looking at her fingers tremble in fear. As we sat and waited for her turn, we saw inmates in uniform and shackles waiting their turn as well. I will never forget when client turned to me and said ‘I was so scared in there. I thought that the red suit meant I was the worst of the worst.’ My client had never had issues with the law prior to the incidence. Not even a traffic ticket! During her time out on bond she was forbidden to cross state or county lines without permission. Client lives in Anthony, NM which is surrounded by state and county lines. My client could not go to the grocery store 3 blocks from her home because it is on the Texas side and she was not allowed to go into Texas per the court order. In my work experience, I have never met a person who followed that order in the way that my client did. She truly is of strong moral character.”
“My client is also a devoted mother, and aside from her legal issues, she had young children to consider during this trying time. She focused on her children and her healing; utilizing all services La Casa, Inc. had to offer. She shared with me that when she was strangled in 2012, she was not ready to leave the abusive relationship as she could not fathom being a single or divorced mother. However, the new incident and the act of her husband getting her arrested and taken away from her children was enough for our client to find the strength to leave for good.”
Today she is thriving. She walks into our office for support group meetings with pride and a smile. She is dedicated to her children and never skips an appointment with La Casa, Inc. Children and Youth Program. She is enrolled in English as a second language classes and is seeking employment. The most notable change is her SMILE. The first day I met her she looked terrified of the world. Today she is an inspiration to me, and I am confident that she will THRIVE due to the support she received from La Casa Inc.