A Tale of Survival

Here in her own words, is the heroic story of Jennifer*, who is hearing impaired and a survivor of many years of domestic violence.

I am a survivor of domestic violence. For 9 years my husband oppressed me by calling me names like a deaf freak and idiot. When he was angry he would break things and throw them at me. He kicked me and held me down, and he did all of this in front of our three young children. When I left him, he stalked me and made threats on my life. Finally I got a restraining order against him, hoping the abuse would stop. A month later, in a secluded parking lot, he attacked me. He beat me in the back of a head with a hammer, but somehow I managed to escape. I believe that he was trying to kill me that night. He was later convicted of assault and sentenced to three years in prison.

I started my divorce process with the assistance of a woman’s shelter. After several months it was clear I needed more legal assistance then the shelter could offer. I was able to scrape together $1,500 to hire a private attorney, but after my money ran out I was back on my own trying to finish my divorce. After two years of trying to complete my divorce case I had a hearing. I went to the hearing thinking that it was the final step in the process, only to be told by the Judge that there were problems with my paperwork and that I would have to start all over. I remember being in the courtroom, frustrated and near tears. I was terrified because my husband was about to be released from prison. I needed to finish this divorce, but I didn’t know where to turn. Little did I know that there was a stranger in the audience watching this all take place.

Larry Ginsberg, partner at Harris∙Ginsberg and former Harriett Buhai Center Board President, came up to me in the hallway and told me he knew some people who could help me. He told me about the Center.

I came to the Center desperate to have this all behind me. From the very first moment, the Center helped me understand what had happened and worked with me to correct the problems. The Center brought me hope when I was feeling overwhelmed by the judicial system. Here I was, an unemployed mother supporting myself and three kids on financial aid and nothing else, but the Center showed me I have value as a person despite my income or disability, and that I have rights no matter what. For the first time I felt like there was someone who was listening to me and who could help me. I finally had a clear understanding of what needed to be done and I had a sense of hope that I could finally move on with my life. After I had started working with the Harriett Buhai Center my case was finally completed. Now I am optimistic of what life will bring for me and my children, and I am currently enrolled in college working towards my bachelor’s degree. I am very grateful for the support that the Harriett Buhai Center provided to me. I would like to thank all of the Center’s supporters for being involved with this organization that does so much for so many people like me.