Last year, Sonia and her two daughters fled their home from physical, emotional and financial abuse at the hands of her husband.
For years, he hit and choked Sonia and encouraged the girls to hurt her, too. He even prohibited one of their daughters from speaking to her mother without his permission. Many nights, Sonia and the girls weren’t able to sleep and constantly felt overwhelmed by their future.
Eventually, his violence turned to death threats.
When she was able, Sonia and the girls got out and found a safe haven with Connections for Abused Women and Their Children, Chicago’s oldest domestic violence organization.
United Way partners with agencies like Connections to provide safe housing and legal services to survivors of abuse. We also invest in neighborhood coalitions that build safer households and communities through violence prevention and accessible services.
Together, these partners respond to our neighbors’ varying and connected needs. We know that one challenge a person or family faces — like domestic violence — impacts other parts of their life, like their ability to work or get a good education. If we can help them meet their basic needs, they can focus on healing and moving forward.
In addition to shelter, Connections supported Sonia and her daughters with counseling and other social services. In counseling, Sonia opened up about the pain she felt and learned tools to help the girls express their anger in positive ways, instead of hitting her. With Connections’ support, they also began to develop new family dynamics that are helping them sleep better, stick to a daily routine and spend quality time together.
Like Sonia, Delavontay, a young person in Chicago, needed a few different supports to find a safe living situation.
When his family’s mental health issues and a threat of domestic violence forced him out of his home, Delavontay slept on a bench in a local park. The cold and vulnerability of those nights are still vivid in his mind.
Over the next year, he found temporary shelter with whoever he could, often sleeping on couches. One day, he got connected to a social service provider that referred him to La Casa Norte’s Solid Ground Supportive Housing program. La Casa Norte is another United Way community partner.
Finally, Delavontay had a safe, stable place to lay his head.
At first, Delavontay mostly kept to himself, but in time, he made friends and formed a support system with other residents and staff. “The people at Solid Ground, they’re trying to help me,” he said. “They’re giving me resources that I need to move forward.”
With support from La Casa Norte and his new friends, Delavontay graduated from high school and began applying for college to study early childhood education. He also secured a job to pay for his classes and save money.
In the next year, Delavontay plans to keep working towards college and move into a place he can call his own.