This story is part of a series about how Trauma Informed Values shape Family Services' work. Click here to read the introductory post.
1. Safety: We focus on clients' physical and emotional safety.
Maria, a young, undocumented mother, came to Family Services for help fleeing a grave domestic
violence situation with her husband, who was involved with a Mexican drug cartel and had a violent history. During her first night at the shelter, someone broke into her car which was parked in the neighborhood, stealing her birth certificate, ID, and immigration documents she had worked hard to obtain.
Maria was in crisis— the break-in left her with no sense of physical or emotional safety. She believed that there was no safe place for her family to hide, and that her husband or someone hired by him would eventually find and harm her and her children.
The staff at Karen’s House recognized the importance of helping Maria regain safety before doing anything else. They showed her how the security cameras worked and where blind spots were so she could avoid them. They worked with her to create a safety plan, revisiting and role-playing it with her daily.
After several weeks, Maria finally felt her level of safety increasing and she was able to begin receiving counseling and legal services. Maria and her children were able to stay at Karen’s House until it was safe enough for them to move on. Maria knows it may be a long road for her and her family to heal from the
violence they have experienced, but she is determined not to give up. Maria continues to push forward.