“The Center was my rock.”

JoannaJoanna*, a victim of sex trafficking and severe abuse, was a recent client of the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law. Excerpts from her very powerful story, drawn from her own words, make it clear why your support is needed and what benefits you will create for others who are suffering. Please give today.

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*Joanna’s name and images have been changed to protect her privacy.

Joanna’s story begins here:

“I grew up in and out of foster homes. When I was 15, I met the man who convinced me to run away with him and then forced me to become one of his prostitutes. I lived and worked with other girls in motels where he beat us almost every day with his fists or a leather strap. I tried to run away, but he always caught me…

From the start, he raped me… Then, I became pregnant. I was 16 when I had my son. I was so happy to have him in my life, but unbearably sad that he was trapped with me in a nightmare.

My son lived with us in the motels and saw things that a child should never see. I wasn’t allowed to be alone with or see him for more than a few hours at a time.

Finally, I escaped. I was broken from years of constant fear and abuse and couldn’t go on, but my heart was breaking because I had to leave my son behind.

I kept up with him through relatives and began a new life with the hope of getting him out of the dangerous world he lived in. So, I started school at a community college and met the Buhai Center attorneys there.

After my son’s father tracked me down and threatened me, the Center went to court to help me get a restraining order and started my custody case…

Over the year, the Center was my rock.

With the Center’s support, I had a strong and powerful voice. I felt so reassured and confident that I could testify at court against my abuser as he stared at me across the room. Now, my son is in a secure and safe place with me. There’s no way I could’ve done it on my own. I have a positive future, a family and a new found voice – all thanks to the Center.”

To read the full story, click here.


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