Marisa* is like other young women you might know. A lifelong Baltimorean, Marisa went to local public schools and the University of Maryland College Park. Four years ago, she married Jake, her college boyfriend. Two years ago, they welcomed their daughter, Lily. Despite happy photos of vacations and special occasions on social media, nothing was as it seemed. “The first time he kicked me, he said it was my fault because I was in the way.” She believed his apologies, but the physical and emotional abuse escalated after their daughter was born. Jake kept breaking her cell phone, tracked her mileage and eventually stopped her from visiting family and friends. “I learned to see myself through his eyes: unlovable and stupid. My self-esteem had been chipped away so drastically, I was terrified.”
One night, running late because of traffic, Marisa came home to Jake in a rage. He grabbed Marisa by the wrist, breaking it. She ran to a neighbor’s house, holding Lily in her arms. She called her parents. “I was ashamed and felt like a failure.”
Her parents took Marisa and Lily to the hospital. The next morning, they brought Marisa to CHANA. CHANA’s legal advocate explained the process of obtaining a protective order. Marisa talked with a social worker and discussed safety options. Thanks to your support, Marisa had access to counseling sessions and legal help, all completely free. CHANA’s legal team helped Marisa file a protective order against Jake. “Jake tried to take away my dignity and self-respect, but with CHANA’s help, I was able to rebuild my life.”
Today, Marisa is divorced, living in Pikesville with her daughter. She continues to negotiate custody issues with her ex. For many clients, finding safety after abuse is a lifelong process, frequently tied up in custody or legal issues. Because of your generosity, CHANA remains a trusted ally for Marisa and hundreds of victims of domestic violence – not only during a life-threatening crisis, but long after. Thank you.