We first met F in the ELL class at Windsor Heights in 2012. She had come from Turkey with her three children and her husband. Their children participated in our programs, and F was involved in ELL class, but she was very reserved, and it took some extra effort for staff to get to know her. After an incident in her home, F revealed to SWYFS staff that she wanted to get a divorce and move to a new apartment, but declined to speak to the family advocate. Finally, after several weeks, F revealed that she had been suffering from domestic violence for many years. The Windsor Heights team advised her to seek a protection order for her safety and the safety of her children, drove her to the Kent courthouse to complete the paperwork, and finally coordinated the difficult and delicate process to serve the husband with the protection letter and convince him to release his children.
Through referrals from SWYFS staff, F connected with DSHS to get childcare, and was paired with a DV advocate from ReWa. Throughout the process, SWYFS staff in the New Futures program at Windsor Heights offered extended after-school program time to her children so F could continue to attend her many meetings and court dates.
But this wasn’t enough. At first, the court dates did not go well. The husband had a lawyer and the judge did not seem to focus on the long history of domestic violence in the family. The husband was now requesting his own protection order for his children to be removed from their mother. F was getting discouraged, desperate that she would lose her children and that she would continue to be in danger.
SWYFS stepped in to strongly advocate for F to get legal representation from ReWA’s partner lawyer and collected letters from therapists, family advocates, and others who had worked with F over the years. Finally, the support and coordination paid off. The judge issued a strict protection order against the husband, who was required to complete DV treatment, parenting classes, and supervised visits.
Our staff provided invaluable support through this difficult case, and we are thankful and proud that F and her children are safe and thriving.