Acquiring the Legal Tools to Set Herself Free

Empowered with the legal knowledge she learned and results she achieved through the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, Nicole* is reclaiming the dreams she thought she had lost forever, including obtaining her college degree.

In high school, she thought she met the love of her life, but Nicole’s life went from happy to horror-filled. Pregnant and overwhelmed, she moved in with her boyfriend’s family. His abuse began and did not stop until she met lawyers and volunteers from the Center at the community college she was trying to attend despite his threats. Trying to control all aspects of her life, he convinced her that he would take their daughter away if she did not obey him. One day, angered that she was going to school when he told her not to, he threw her out of the house. She hid with their daughter in a nearby alley until he left. Determined to change her life, she fled with her daughter to move in with her family.

Meeting the Center’s lawyers through its outreach program, Nicole found the tools to move forward and be her own advocate. With extensive legal education and preparation, Nicole represented herself in court to obtain full custody of their child. Based on the belligerent conduct of the father in the case, the judge ruled that he could not have any visitation at that time.

Of her experience, Nicole says: “It was a scary time and now life is great with the Center’s help. I’m going to graduate school because I want to help others through the difficult times in their lives. I am looking forward to good things for myself and my daughter that I thought we would never have.”

*Name and photo changed to protect client’s privacy.