30 Voices

Hi, I hope this helps anyone who is in need of exiting an unhealthy and or abusive relationship. When I was 18, I entered an abusive and codependent relationship that lasted a little over 10 years. It was mentally and physically exhausting. After 10 years of being together I became pregnant and we had our child. I felt even more trapped and obligated to give our relationship another chance (after countless chances) for at least a year. The year flew by and the same patterns continued and I had to make a choice. I decided it was time to do what was best for myself and my child. I did not want our child growing up thinking that this was normal behavior and that it was okay to treat someone this way. Soon after separating my feelings teetered back and forth between worry and relief. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and the more time that past the more confident in my choice I became. When my ex suddenly out of the blue decided to take me to court to fight for custody my feelings of worry came back. I reached out to DVAC where I was able to connect with others who went through similar situations and it helped make the process go by a little easier because I felt supported. Fast forward to a year later… court is done. I have full custody and I continue to work on my healing journey. There is hope for a healthier future but you have to make a choice. Don’t be scared but do recognize that it might get worse before it gets better, but believe me it’s worth it in the long run. Remember it’s okay to ask for help and organizations like DVAC are here for you when you are ready. 

I am a 27-year-old Marshallese female. I met my DVAC Advocate in October of 2019. At the time, I was living at the IHS shelter and had just recently filed a TRO against my ex-boyfriend and the father of my 3-year-old baby girl. I also have two older boys ages 4 & 6.  I had no one to get assistance from and it was even harder with English not being my first language. I had never been in trouble with the police all my life growing up and so I was completely lost.

My boyfriend, now ex, was very controlling. We got into fights frequently because of his drinking and substance abuse. He never helped with the children and refused to listen to anyone– not even his own family. I always felt that I was the breadwinner for the family.

Residing in the shelter is not easy. There are many rules to comply with or else you risk being evicted. We already had our fair share of issues between us as a couple but the situation was made worse when we were accused of child negligence and all the children were taken from us by the state –and this was just the beginning.

My life changed drastically. The next two and a half years were spent in parenting-skill classes, DV education classes, counseling and therapy sessions, group sessions, and Ohana meetings. I met various kinds of people from various social agencies. There were social workers and attorneys, the childrens’ attorneys, judges and even more attorneys and social workers. It was endless.

I felt I had no time to grieve and miss my children because I had to focus my energy on complying with the most difficult system I have ever come across if I ever wanted them back. Through it all, my DVAC Advocate was very helpful. She tried to attend all of my meetings and visits with me. She even interpreted and advocated for me. We created a safety plan together and she consistently checked that we were maintaining it. At that time, although the TRO was in effect there were incidents of violation from the other party and I don’t know what I would have done without the safety planning and risk assessments. My Advocate became my confidant. It was very comforting to have someone that spoke my language and understood my culture, especially someone who is also a mother and could empathize with the extent of heartbreak that I was experiencing. She never judged me and only ever listened patiently and provided support.

While I was going through all the turmoil, the world didn’t stop for me. I still had a life to live and above all, the goal of getting my children back to me. Part of proof of compliance was to be able to pay all my bills and find a stable home. I quickly had to learn my way around how agencies worked and the courts to be able to comply with the courts’ demands. But most importantly, I had to be safe. My family needed to be safe.  DVAC didn’t just provide moral support, I was also provided assistance with rent payments to keep my apartment once I found one, clothes and diapers for my baby, and was provided with other basic needs. My Advocate kept encouraging me and telling me things that I would have never credited myself for. I will be eternally grateful.

It is with a fulfilled heart that I am happy to report: despite the hardships, frustrations and difficulties I encountered, it was with my DV Advocate’s assistance that in January of this year my case with the CPS was closed and all my children are now back with me. I have become stronger and now believe in myself. I am very thankful for all that stood with me and guided me throughout my journey. I am very glad that I got the service I received and will always be grateful to share this story everywhere I go. Today I am still with DVAC as they continue to support me and my children. I am living very independently and want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life advocating for others that are in the same situation as me. 

I am a mother of 5 and a survivor of Domestic Violence. When I finally realized I was tired of being a punching bag, I was tired of having my kids succumbed to violence and tired of living in fear. I reached out to women helping women and they helped myself and my 5 kids with flights to freedom. A one time offer for your family to start a new life, somewhere you will be able to still receive support and the biggest thing is where you will feel safe and gain your dignity back.

Once my kids and I got to our safe zone, I was handed a pamphlet with the multiple resources on the island that I am able to reach out to. DVAC, was one of the major resources that helped me get my life back on track. From providing my family with the funds to receive the everyday essentials ( hygiene, underwear, bras, clothes & shoes for my kids and I) to legal help, such as helping me understand legal situations, paperwork, helping me pay off fines and get my license back.

On the track of regaining my life back, I secured employment and was ready to transition from the safety of the shelter to a transitions home, they helped me with my first months rent and my deposit. Till this day they assist me with funds to keep my family active in a gym and when I need food they send my flyers of food drives and certain events and educational classes. 

If I was never referred to DVAC,  I would be struggling to make my way through the transitions in my life.

Best of Luck and God Bless you all ~

I first found out about DVAC through a friend… I was here on this island going through a violent divorce. Alone.  Scared. Trying to hold it together for a new career that I was on the fast track to get… I had called the Domestic Violence Hotline twice. I was threatened to never put a TRO on him because IF I was to report the things he was doing to me? He would put a TRO on me (for no reason) and I would never get my job with the career path I had chosen… Fast forward… 

I had lost it all. The hope of the career I had always wanted. I was financially cut off. From all sources. I was not receiving any child support to speak of for my 4 children. I was trying to navigate the Protection Order I was granted (that he was fighting), an attorney that was quitting on me because I couldn’t pay, COVID, and then my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. 

I wish that I could say that DVAC has helped me find all the answers. I wish that I could say they were able to come in and save me from it all. But THAT is not real. What is REAL? Is that my advocates were there. Every time I asked. They were there for every emotional breakdown. They heard me when no one else could validate the way I was feeling. They gave me hope when I felt hopeless. They offered to talk to my family to bring understanding to what I was going through when I felt they didn’t understand. They offered a free consultation that resulted in me being able to get my children home to my mother so we could spend some much needed time with her while she was on palliative care before we had to return to the island. They offered group support where other women “get it”. They all understand… because all of our DV stories are not all THAT different. They offered countless resources for financial support when I needed rental assistance and was trying to find help in paying some other bills when I had to return to work but only part time. They offered help with informing my employer about my trauma from my abuse where I struggled to accurately describe what was “going on with me”.  They offered school supplies when I couldn’t afford them and their father couldn’t be bothered to help.

I am beyond blessed and so very thankful to be a client of DVAC. It is my hope that because of the amazing work that they do, that someday, after I am done dealing with all of my  crisis from my divorce, I hope to be able to join the team and help others the way they have helped me. Thank-you DVAC! You folks are truly Angels on Earth!

Like many victims, I encountered DVAC during a time of crisis. After fleeing my home state after instances of physical, mental, and emotional abuse, I was left without my own home, little money, unemployed, just the clothes I had on my back, and a child I needed to take care of. I was in a state of survival mode, with no time to process my decision to leave, grieve my situation, or feel any emotions. Though, given the injuries that marred my face I’m certain that with the pitied looks I received, people knew what I was doing.

It wasn’t until months later when I was looking for an attorney for my TRO that I’d heard about DVAC. Once I was assigned one, she was very compassionate and a good listener. After that, I was full of emotional turmoil and facing unemployment and wondered if I could tackle both simultaneously. The state helped in that respect by providing us our necessities and providing me the option to attend victim advocacy classes in place of work and helped provide for my individual therapy. Near the end of that journey, through a bout of continuous court cases and hearings is when I was assigned a DVAC advocate.

She provided many opportunities to help through chances at rental assistance, providing clothing for my child and I, gifts during the holidays, providing support by attending my court hearings with me, help with transportation, etc. It is through her help, paired with individual therapy and religion that I can now say she that I am fully independent: with our own home, a full time career in my specialty, and much more. But I think the most valuable thing that my advocate provided me with and continues to are the mental tools I need to feel more confident and not cower down to the court system and my abuser. That is something I will carry with me for years, for the emotional burden of a victim’s experience extends far beyond the time that your scars heal. And with this I’ve also gained a confidant and friend.

𝗛𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗼! 𝗜  𝗰𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝗯𝘂𝘀𝘀𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽. 𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 h𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀, 𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗱𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲. 𝗗𝗼𝗻’𝘁 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗼 s𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗲 I 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗛𝗮𝘄𝗮𝗶𝗶 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗺𝘆 2 𝗯𝗼𝘆𝘀 𝗱𝘂𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗛𝘂𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗻𝗲 L𝗮𝗻𝗲. W𝗲 𝗹𝗲𝗳𝘁 𝗺𝘆 𝗲𝘅 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗰𝗮𝗹led 911 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗼𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗰𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝗽𝗶𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝘂𝗽 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝘁𝗼 t𝗵𝗲 t𝗲𝗺𝗽𝗼𝗿𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝘀𝗵𝗲𝗹𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗶𝗻𝗪𝗮𝗶𝗽𝗮𝗵𝘂 𝗛𝗶𝗴𝗵 𝗦𝗰𝗵𝗼𝗼𝗹 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘄𝗲 𝗯𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗹u𝗴𝗴𝘂𝗴𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘂𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 s𝗵𝗲𝗹𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗳𝗳 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄𝗲𝗱 𝗺𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝘀𝗸𝗲𝗱 𝗺𝗲𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝗻𝗱 I 𝘁𝗼𝗹𝗱 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗴𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝗴𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗺𝗲 t𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗵𝗲𝗹𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗽𝗵𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗻𝘂𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿 𝗶𝗻 𝗞𝗮𝗽𝗮𝗵𝘂𝗹𝘂 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗵𝗲𝗹𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗶𝘀 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆  𝘁𝗲𝗺𝗽𝗼𝗿𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 H𝘂𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗻𝗲 La𝗻𝗲٫𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝘄𝗲 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗰𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗱𝘁 𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗵𝗲𝗹𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻. A𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗺𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 I’𝗺 𝘁𝗼𝘁𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 I 𝗱𝗼𝗻’𝘁 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗼 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗵𝗲𝗹𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗳𝗳 𝘁𝗼𝗹𝗱 𝗺𝗲 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗼 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗴𝗮𝘃𝗲  𝗺𝗲 𝘀𝗼 𝗺𝘂𝗰𝗵 𝗻𝘂𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿s 𝘁𝗼 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗰𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝘂𝘁 I’𝗺 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗴𝘂𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗯𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗿. I 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱𝗻’𝘁 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗮𝗸 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗹𝗶𝘀𝗵 𝘄𝗲𝗹𝗹٫𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗻 o𝗻𝗲 𝗱𝗮𝘆 m𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 I 𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗸𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗠𝘀.𝗥𝗮𝘆𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗮 𝗠𝗼𝗷𝗶𝗰𝗮 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗗𝗩𝗔𝗖. 𝗦𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗻𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗜 𝘁𝗿𝘆 𝗺𝘆 𝗯𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗮𝗸 𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗹𝗶𝘀𝗵 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝗶𝗳𝘀 𝗵𝗲’𝘀 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 I 𝘀𝗮𝘆 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝗸𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗵𝗮𝗽𝗽𝘆 I 𝗮𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 I t𝗮𝗹𝗸𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 s𝗵𝗲 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝗲𝗱 𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗺𝘆 𝗮𝗱𝘃𝗼𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗩𝗶𝗹𝗺𝗮. 𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘀𝗼 h𝗮𝗽𝗽𝘆 t𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗮𝗸 T𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗹𝗼𝗴 𝘀𝗼 𝘄𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿. 𝗗𝗩𝗔𝗖 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗳𝗳 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗣𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗜 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗮 𝗴𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗲𝗱 p𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲. E𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 t𝗵𝗲 p𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 t𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗱𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝗻 𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝗯𝗯𝘂𝘀𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗵𝗶p, 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗼 𝗺𝘂𝗰𝗵 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗽 𝘂𝘀 e𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗲 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱. W𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺 I 𝗰𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗽𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲. 𝗔𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝘆 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗛𝗮𝘄𝗮𝗶𝗶 𝗮𝘀 𝘄𝗲𝗹𝗹 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗗𝗩𝗔𝗖’𝘀 help. 𝗧𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗸 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘀𝗼 𝗺𝘂𝗰𝗵! 𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗽𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂’𝘃𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘂𝘀 .𝗚❤️𝗗 𝗕𝗟𝗘𝗦𝗦 𝗬𝗢𝗨 𝗔𝗟𝗟.

I met DVAC because of abuse I received from my ex-Husband.  Even after I divorced, my ex-Husband abused me financially. He didn’t pay me child support, sold my stuff, created a credit card with my name without acknowledging it, and made a debt. Even I have sole physical custody, he claimed TAX of my children and received tax returns and stimulus money. Of course, he refused to pay me back. So I decided to go to court to fight with my ex-husband. Unfortunately, I am a single mom of two, I couldn’t afford to hire an attorney, but my DVAC advocate helped me prepare documents for the court hearing. The advocate even accompanied me to the court hearing. I was very reassured that she was there with me. Even though I didn’t have an attorney but because of DVAC’s help, I was strengthened, I was encouraged, and I was brave.  The judge granted my complaint, and I was able to receive that money.

DVAC also helped me pay our rent, and because of the financial support, we spent such a blessed Christmas ever before, even in the middle of the pandemic. Having such a healthy, blessed life now is all because of DVAC. I am so thankful for all the works DVAC does, helping people like us who need help.

My Advocate, Julie Gatdula was exceptionally amazing in aiding me. She took my situation seriously, helped me with the TRO trial and seeing the police with me to write the police reports. She always checked on my status and in the end, helped me get the Fly to Freedom to escape my abuser.  Without Julie as my advocate, I would not have been able to get back on my feet that quickly.

She located and got me into the transitional shelter and has supported me all the way. I used her as a reference for a job  I was applying to in Hawaii, and with her statement, I was hired!  Before safety leaving Hawaii, I used her again as a reference for jobs and to help get my new apartment in Texas.  Most importantly always being kind and patient. She constantly safety planned with me. Whenever I had request she was always the first to respond not hesitation to research legal issues for me as well. Having her in the office downstairs gave me security and peace of mind. She is a hard working advocate that truly cares for others life. 

I can’t even count the many blessings this program has given me and my baby! We are out of an abusive cycle and entering a positive living where we can make positive choices and grow and change the patterns. We have emotional support here. We also are helped with so many more resources. Living here gives us opportunities we would never have. Living here if we want to go back to school to be a more valuable worker to make more money to support our child we can. Providing them a brighter future. If we were scrambling every month we would most likely end up back with our abusers. Also I know my daughter is so happy here. Other children to look up to brings her so much joy. She always wants to go to the office anytime we come home to stay hi to the staff. She has really come out of her shell. She loves the kids, staff, and everyone who lives here. Living here I’ve been successful at continuing some education also providing with my divorce/custody. It looks like we’ll be granted sole and physical. So far I would not of stood a chance with the opportunity living here. I owe everything to DVAC, HIS, and Julie and Lydia. Me and my child have grown so much. I am forever grateful.