This week a S.T.O.P. funded Florida shelter contracts legal representation for a survivor:
Anna’s* husband, Ron*, abused her and their two minor children, ages 13 and 7, who have special needs. Although Anna was the sole provider in the family, she was afraid to leave her husband because he constantly threatened that he would take the children from her if she did so. The violence against Anna and the children was intermittent, but he continually terrorized them with threats of violence, intimidation tactics, and verbal abuse. He frequently showed up at Anna’s job sites to scream at her and berate her.
After law enforcement arrested Ron for spousal abuse and child abuse, Anna and her children went to stay at Hope Family Services’ (HPS) shelter in Manatee County, Florida. HPS uses STOP Grant funds to contract with an experienced family law attorney to provide services when representation in protection order cases is especially warranted. Anna was referred to the attorney, who represented her at the protection order hearing. At the hearing, the court granted the protection order and ordered that Ron have no contact with either Anna or their two children. She was also awarded temporary custody of the children.
Anna expressed the need to return to New Jersey with the children, where her family resides. Immediately before a subsequent hearing on support and contact with the children, Ron agreed to allow Anna to relocate. The court entered the stipulation as an order, and also ordered that Ron continue to have no contact with the children.
Shortly after the hearing, Anna and her children moved in with her sister in New Jersey, with the help of VOCA funds provided to victims of crime who wish to relocate.