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For 22 years, “Ms. Z” suffered mental, emotional, physical, and financial abuse at the hands and fists of her husband. He also abused their children physically and mentally. When we met Ms. Z, she was unemployed, living in a cramped two-bedroom apartment with her mother and three daughters. We helped empower Ms. Z to confront her husband and tell the story of what he had done to her and to their family. We represented Ms. Z in court and helped her get a divorce, sole custody of her children, supervised visitation, and a permanent injunction to protect her from future abuse. Now, only six months later, Ms. Z is back on her feet – she is employed and has her own housing with enough room for her family. They finally have the freedom to heal from the decades of abuse.
We met “Ms. B” through our partnership with the Family Justice Center (FJC) in New Orleans. For seven years, Ms. B was trapped in an abusive relationship. Her husband beat her, threatened to kill her, and held a knife to her throat. When he threatened to kill their 5-year-old daughter, Ms. B could not take it any longer. We helped her get an immediate protective order. Then, utilizing the new laws that Louisiana enacted in 2014 to protect domestic violence victims, we helped her file for divorce, custody, child support, and a permanent protective order. The court granted Ms. B all relief and denied her husband visitation until he completes batterers' intervention. Now that she is safe, Ms. B can move forward building a new life. Thanks to our supporters, SLLS was able to protect Ms. B's family from a violent and potentially lethal situation.
“Ms. R”’s husband had been so violent that he served time for smashing the bones in her face. She endured years of abuse. Because of her belief in her matrimonial vows, she still wanted to make the marriage work. But on Christmas Day 2013, she finally had enough. At a family Christmas party, her abuser’s anger got completely out of control. He beat her, dragged her out of the house by her hair, and tried to throw her over the balcony. Ms. R’s elderly mother attempted to help her, but the abuser struck her, knocking her to the ground. We helped Ms. R obtain her divorce and sole custody of her children. Though our representation of Ms. R is complete, Salyria Gumms, managing attorney of our Houma office, still is dedicated to protecting her safety. When she learned that Ms. R’s abuser, who is currently incarcerated, will have a 2-day pass for Christmas 2014, she called the local sheriff’s office and asked for extra patrols during this time to make sure the abuser does not return for Ms. R and her children. Thanks to our representation, this year, Ms. R’s family will enjoy their first Christmas free from fear and violence.
For 15 years, Loudes N. (pictured here with her daughter) suffered in an abusive relationship. Her husband terrorized her, broke her rib, and threatened to kill her. We helped her obtain a protective order, a divorce, and sole custody of her children. Lourdes was able to go back to school and obtain a degree. Now, she has a job that she loves. She finally can take care of her family without fear.
A Parent without a Home
A Section 8 housing voucher can make the difference between living under a roof and living on the street.
Our client had her hands full when she faced that nightmare when the Housing Authority threatened to take away her voucher.
Parenting her own child, she also took care of two nephews and a niece. Her mother was dead. What was her misstep? Moving out of a subsidized apartment without written notice. She and the children crowded in with her brother and his family. She worried if she would lose her voucher for good.
Fortunately, she found SLLS, and SLLS helped the client tell her story to the housing authority. The hearing officer decided that the client would get a new voucher plus 60 days to find a new place. After all was said and done, our attorney watched from a distance as the client called a relative to share the good news.
Domestic Violence and Custody
To escape nearly daily violence at the hands of her ex husband, a young mother fled the state with her child.
Leaving did not end the trauma.
She returned to Louisiana to put her life back together. Then her ex assaulted her fitness as a mother in a bid for sole custody of their child.
That is when she found SLLS and a way to fight back.
SLLS helped the judge see why the client deserved to be the primary custodial parent. With SLLS' help, the judge appreciated the stable routine of educational, spiritual and social guidance the client set up for her child in their new life.
The judge did not buy most of what the ex had to say. The judge did look at many things, including at what brought the doomed pair together. They met on the Internet. She was 16. He was years older. She became pregnant. They married.
The judge cut the overnight visits for the ex by a third. The ex was ordered to use his vehicle to get the child for visits, rather than forcing the client and the child to walk from the bus stop. As for demands for the ex that the client have her head examined? That went nowhere.
SLLS Sets State Agency Straight
People in Louisiana will have an easier time getting their information together to get food aid, thanks to a change in state policy that SLLS negotiated.
SLLS discovered that Louisiana's Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) refused aid or cut people off for "lack of verification" without saying exactly what information was missing or giving people a clear way to contact the agency to try to work things out.
DCFS oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program once known as food stamps. SLLS alerted the agency that federal regulations demand that people know what information is missing and have a way to contact the agency to try to work things out.
Disabled & Without Hope
Our client was diagnosed unexpectedly with a rare, life-threatening disease that attacked her cartilage and left her wheelchair-bound. Medical treatments made her bones brittle and caused her memory to deteriorate, and the doctors soon told Susan that she would be unable to return to work. Faced with her unemployment and the inability to afford a caretaker, her husband was forced to take leave from work to care for his wife.
Bills went unpaid. Medical costs quickly skyrocketed. On top of all this, our client was denied Social Security disability.
This was when she decided to contact us to navigate the complex administrative system ahead of her. With our help, she was approved benefits, allowing her to pay her bills and access medical care.
Most importantly, we gave her and family the peace of mind they deserve.