Transformers: Helping One Woman Remake Her Life

“Every woman has courage inside. She just needs to find it.”

Lupita credits the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law with helping her find the courage and confidence to build a new life for herself and her young son. For years, she endured physical and emotional abuse from her alcoholic husband. But when she saw her son cowering in fear under a table during one of his father’s rages, she finally took action. She called the Harriett Buhai Center for help.

“I was scared to deal with new people, and also to tell my history. How was I going to deal with the language?” recalls Lupita, a native Spanish speaker. “I don’t have any money, I don’t have any job, so how is this going to work for me?” The Harriett Buhai Center’s lawyers and staff members quickly put her at ease by showing her respect and understanding. They explained her rights as a victim of domestic violence, and assisted with all of the steps in her case.

Over the next few years, the Harriett Buhai Center’s self-help program helped build her self-esteem as Lupita took the lead. With guidance and support from volunteer and staff attorneys, she filed for divorce and resolved custody, visitation, and child support problems. She made all the final decisions and assumed responsibility for following up with court actions. She even represented herself in court — the most challenging, and ultimately most rewarding, aspect of the process for her. “Every time I had to go to court it was frightening, but at the end of the day, I felt relieved because I could say, ‘I did it.’ I spoke for myself, I explained what happened. I felt better and stronger.”

Lupita has made the most of her new confidence. She learned English, earned a GED, received training in the medical field, and found a full-time job in a blood lab doing work she loves. She takes classes at night with the goal of earning a degree in microbiology. “If I didn’t find the Harriett Buhai Center, my whole life would have been different. The help that I received here made me realize that I can do more.”