Susana y Rose

Susana vino al Refugio Familiar de SAFE con su hija, Rose, que estaba a punto de empezar la secundaria. Estaban huyendo de la pareja de Susana, quien abusó emocionalmente de ambos y atacó físicamente a Susana en múltiples ocasiones frente a Rose. Susana también creció en un hogar violento, presenciando y experimentando regularmente abusos a manos de su padre. Cuando llegó a SAFE, Susana le dijo a nuestro personal que sospechaba que su hija no iba por buen camino en su desarrollo. Pero nuestros consejeros la tranquilizaron y le dijeron cómo los niños pueden ser afectados por la violencia y el trauma.

Al venir al Refugio Familiar SAFE, Susana y Rose tuvieron acceso a más que un lugar seguro para dormir. Tenían acceso a asesoramiento, a una escuela informada sobre traumas, a atención médica, a asistencia para la vivienda, todas oportunidades de curación.

Shawn Garner, Trabajador de atención a la juventud en vida de transición

Mientras entrenaba baloncesto juvenil en la universidad, Shawn Garner se dio cuenta de que sus jugadores necesitaban tanta orientación fuera de la cancha como dentro de ella; muchos pasaban el tiempo en el gimnasio para evitar enfrentarse a problemas en casa. Fue entonces cuando decidió que quería hacer trabajo social, lo que lo llevó al Programa de Vida de Transición de Refugio Infantil SAFE, que alberga a jóvenes adultos que están envejeciendo fuera del sistema de hogares de crianza. Shawn volvió a descubrir que el baloncesto era una forma de crear confianza de inmediato y de ganar la confianza que los niños necesitan para sentirse finalmente seguros.

Lucinda

Lucinda sufrió una grave agresión sexual en sus primeros años de adolescencia, a la que siguió una relación abusiva de larga duración, que dio lugar a un trastorno de estrés postraumático, ataques de pánico y dificultades para llevar una vida normal. Cuando Lucinda finalmente decidió dejar su larga relación abusiva, vino al refugio de SAFE con la esperanza de encontrar seguridad. Los consejeros de SAFE ayudaron a Lucinda a desarrollar estrategias de afrontamiento y a recuperar su confianza. Los abogados de SAFE trabajaron con ella para obtener una orden de protección. Ahora Lucinda vive en su propio apartamento, tiene un ingreso estable y servicios de apoyo continuos.

Kristie Gonzales

La miembro de la Junta de SAFE Kristie Gonzales es la presidenta y directora general de KVUE, la filial del abc en Austin, Texas. Dirige una plantilla de más de 120 empleados que producen 33 horas de noticias premiadas en directo cada semana.

Anteriormente, Kristie ocupó varios puestos de dirección de televisión en todo el país, especializándose en la creación de marcas de noticias, el marketing multicultural y el aprovechamiento del poder de los medios digitales y sociales. Ha trabajado en organizaciones contra el abuso durante más de 15 años después de haber experimentado la violencia doméstica. Ahora comparte su historia personal y el lema que le dio su mentor, "Mientras subes, levanta", con otras personas que se enfrentan a la adversidad.

Ally

Ally se llevó a sus hijos y huyó de un hogar abusivo física y emocionalmente para encontrar un nuevo comienzo en Austin. Quería continuar la educación de enfermería que su abusivo compañero la había forzado a abandonar. Pero sin ningún lugar a donde ir en una nueva ciudad, se sentía desesperada. No tenía un hogar permanente para ella y sus hijos. Ally comenzó a reunirse con un defensor de SAFE y un administrador de casos para realizar una búsqueda de vivienda y, a través de SAFE y de nuestros socios comunitarios, encontró un apartamento asequible que funcionaba para su familia. Desde que se mudó, Ally fue aceptada en el programa de enfermería de la universidad.

Michelle

Sólo una semana después de soportar la violencia severa de su pareja, Michelle pudo acceder a los servicios de consejería de SAFE para abordar el trauma que enfrentó. El consejero de Michelle trabajó con ella usando un tipo de terapia llamada Desensibilización y Reprocesamiento del Movimiento Ocular (EMDR) para restaurar su sentido de seguridad y ayudarla a prepararse para testificar contra su abusador en la corte. El consejero también acompañó a Michelle a la corte y tuvo el honor de ver a Michelle decir la verdad con valentía desde el estrado de los testigos. Desde que empezó a ver a los consejeros en SAFE, Michelle ha liberado sus sentimientos de culpa y vergüenza y ahora vive libre del miedo a su abusador.

Melinda Cantu, Vice President of Housing, Healing, and Support Services

Melinda has been a part of SAFE for over 30 years in both direct service and leadership positions. Melinda has been the driving force behind many of SAFE’s programs that directly support youth and adults. She has presented nationally and internationally on operating barrier-free shelters and services. Statewide, she has been active with the Texas Council on Family Violence, and locally as part of the Ending Community Homelessness Organization. Melinda and the staff she works with are dedicated to supporting survivors as they find their strength and start their journey to healing.

Virginia Manders, Data entry volunteer for the Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy program

Virginia has dedicated more than 250 hours volunteering with SAFE’s Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy program, which accompanies sexual assault survivors who undergo forensic exams in Travis County. Her work involves entering data for medical accompaniment reports. Virginia understands the complex issues that sexual assault victims face and her sensitivity to accurate documentation impacts the quality of follow-up services. Virginia also researches grants and writes summaries of research studies that SAFE uses when applying for grants. For her tireless dedication, Virginia was named the 2018 Frankie Fowler Volunteer of the Year.

At just 19 years old, Catherine came to SAFE after escaping her trafficker who was drugging her and exploiting her for sex. Catherine contacted the SAFEline and was able to come to SAFE for shelter. Because of your support, Catherine is now not only safe from the people who were hurting her, but she is connected to our CARES program for survivors of trafficking, and has the wraparound care and resources to rebuild her life and to heal.

Charles came to the Children’s Shelter at 17 years old due to extreme abuse and neglect throughout his childhood, including not properly caring for Charles’ thyroid cancer. Because of the support from our community, Charles was able to be immediately seen right on campus when he arrived by medical professionals to help care for his health. Charles had multiple medical concerns that were simply being ignored, but now he is getting the support and care he needs.

Nick has been in foster care most of his life, and has been shuffled from placement to placement over and over again. He finally found stability and built a community here at SAFE in our housing program for teens aging out of foster care. During COVID-19 Nick was scheduled to transition to live on his own, and was understandably nervous given the pandemic. But with your help, Nick was completely supported and our teams pulled together resources to provide Nick comfort and safety every step of the way.

Betty and her kids came to SAFE’s Family Shelter 2 years ago, and have since been living all together in our supportive housing program. Since being in the program, Betty has worked closely with her advocates across many programs to achieve her goals of finding her own place out in the community, figuring out all of her challenges related to her medical condition, and to continue building autonomy in her life. Now, because of donor support, Betty expects to move into her own home by the end of the month!

Rhonda moved into SAFE’S permanent supportive housing last year after a natural disaster in another state left her homeless and struggling. Relocating to a new community has been hard on Rhonda, but she has successfully worked through her challenges, and has diligently worked with many staff members and in a variety of SAFE’s programs. Thanks to the support of our community, Rhonda is now looking forward to being in her own home and is continuing to utilize many of SAFE’s services.

Your generosity makes stories like this possible: Susana and her daughter Rose came to SAFE’s Family Shelter after fleeing Susana’s long-time abusive partner. Susana told SAFE’s counselors that she was concerned that Rose was not on track developmentally and was worried about her behavior problems. Susana was worried that we would think she was a bad mom. But here at SAFE, Susana and Rose were able to get wraparound support to help them to heal from their trauma, and Susana was able to be reassured as a mom and support system for her daughter.

After COVID hit, we heard from many clients in need of guardianship documents, wills, and powers of attorney, should they suddenly become ill. So, at the beginning of the summer our legal services team launched a drive-thru wills clinic! At the clinic, we were able to help multiple clients with full sets of legal documents to help protect themselves, their children, and their assets. It was such an overwhelming success! One client cried at signing day, saying she was overwhelmed with gratitude because she could now protect her newly adopted daughter!

a child began coming to SAFE’s peer support groups. After listening to other women in the group, she had a revelation: she realized she was being raped repeatedly in her current relationship. Through open conversation about personal and emotional rights, she got the answers to questions she had been too afraid to ask. Thanks to your support, and with the support of the group, she was able to get the help she needed and make a safety plan to get out of her current situation.

Recently, we had a mom call our SAFEline needing shelter for herself and her three children after her husband had strangled and hit her when she was defending her children. This mom needed immediate safety for herself and her children, but unfortunately, our shelter was full. Regardless, our staff figured out how to move other families that were now safe and waiting on permanent housing out to a hotel, paid for by donor dollars, so we could move this young family in, thus keeping the mom and children safe. Had we not been able to figure it out, the likely outcome would have been continued abuse of the children and the mother.

Bethany, a five-year-old little girl, was placed at the Children’s Shelter after being separated from her mother because of drug use. When Bethany arrived, we noticed that she had never been taught basic hygiene, so our staff came together to help teach and support little Bethany in learning these basic skills. Bethany learned how to use the bathroom, brush her teeth by herself, and bathe. Thanks to your support, while here at SAFE Bethany can learn these basic skills, and also work with an on-site individual play therapy to help her through her trauma and separation from her mom.

Marie recently arrived at SAFE to complete a forensic exam and receive medical care at Eloise House. Her attacker sexually assaulted her and threatened to hurt her children if she told anyone. She arrived at our clinic with her children, but without a support network, money, transportation, or even a safe place to stay the night. Advocates and forensic nurses all collaborated to support Marie, and after securing funds for her to spend two nights in a hotel, Marie and her children were able to get into shelter at SAFE. The combination of support and resources that you make possible made all the difference in supporting Marie and her children to find safety and begin to heal.

Recently, a young woman named Paula reached out to our SAFEline after being badly beaten and her clothes burned by her boyfriend. When she called, Paula was living in her car. The SAFEline advocate learned that Paula had relatives in another state who were willing to let her live with them, but they wanted Paula to quarantine herself for two weeks before coming to make sure she wouldn’t spread COVID19. Because of the support from our community, we were able to pay for a hotel for her to quarantine as well as a bus ticket for her to get to her family. So often all that stands between a survivor and safety is one time funding to get them back on their feet.

Francesca has been in foster care since we was a very young due to neglect and drug use by her parents, and she arrived at the Children’s Shelter after her third adoptive home placement failed. Francesca was angry and would frequently have aggressive outbursts blaming CPS and her adoptive family. She shared with us that she struggled to understand why her adoptive placements continued to fail and wanted nothing more than a long-term family. We cannot undo what Francesca has experienced, but through frequent check-ins each day, individual therapy, and wraparound support from staff, we can help her to know that she matters, and that there are adults who care for her, that she can trust.

This year, a local school reached out to SAFE’s Expect Respect program and requested counseling for a student who had experienced sexual harassment and bullying during the previous school year. The student, Amara, was depressed and needed support. Amara was able to connect virtually with an Expect Respect counselor, as well as join a support group with other kids her age who were all navigating teen relationships. Amara learned how to safety plan if the bullying continued, and is also building strong relationships and connections with her peers that she didn’t have before.

Anna was placed at the Children’s Shelter in Agosto, and when she arrived she had many medical concerns, and a complex medical history. Anna shared stories of times when she was younger and couldn’t control her breathing, and how she went many years without medical care. She was later diagnosed with asthma. But thanks to your generosity, here at SAFE, Anna felt safe enough to be vulnerable and was very emotional as staff acknowledged and validated how she was feeling. Anna struggles with trusting adults, however, as we continue to show her we care about her, her physical and mental health, that trust can be rebuilt.

Like many students, the transition from in-person learning to online learning last Abril was not easy. Jess is a student in the SAFE charter school, and he found the online learning format to be very challenging and, as a result, stopped showing up to his classes and small group instruction. We immediately connected with Jess to figure out how to support him, and learned that Jess felt uncomfortable using the camera on the computer, and was feeling incredibly anxious about taking finals on the computer. With this information in hand, we were able to get different processes in place for him. Because our community supported him fully, Jess finished out his school year strong.

Earlier this year, Ruth, a young mom of 3, was stabbed by her husband in multiple areas of her body. Ruth’s children were placed into the foster care system while she was hospitalized for her injuries, going through intense physical therapy, and navigating the justice system after her husband was arrested and charged. After leaving the hospital, a friend from Ruth’s faith community told her about SAFE. Our legal services team was able to work closely with Ruth on her case, and all of her children have since been returned to her care!

Earlier this year, Ruth, a young mom of 3, was stabbed by her husband in multiple areas of her body. Ruth’s children were placed into the foster care system while she was hospitalized for her injuries, going through intense physical therapy, and navigating the justice system after her husband was arrested and charged. After leaving the hospital, a friend from Ruth’s faith community told her about SAFE. Our legal services team was able to work closely with Ruth on her case, and all of her children have since been returned to her care!

Janice is a military veteran and mother to a 3 year old. Janice’s partner was extremely controlling and emotionally abusive, and the abuse eventually became physical. During one fight, her neighbor called the police, which resulted in CPS removing Janice’s daughter and placing her in foster care. Janice then connected with our SAFE Futures program that helps domestic violence survivors who are now are involved with CPS. Janice got legal help, joined a peer support group, and has built a great relationship with her advocate. Janice’s advocate helped to educate CPS on the ways in which Janice was protective of her daughter through this situation, and was able to reunify Janice and her baby.

People with disabilities are at a significantly higher risk for abuse and trauma, and at SAFE we engage with survivors with disabilities through holistic healing classes across the city. When the pandemic hit, many class participants were overwhelmed by feelings of fear, worry, and stress. But part of the classes was to work with survivors on healing from within, and learning tools to provide relief from strong emotions. So even though in person classes were not possible, thanks to community support, healing is still happening.