Navigating Life After Domestic Violence

*October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here’s a look at how Third Street Alliance helps those escaping or dealing with abusive relationships. 

It was two weeks before Christmas when Courtney came to Third Street Alliance.

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She had moved from Michigan to Pennsylvania, fleeing domestic violence from her partner, to live with a friend. Then her ex-partner found out her location.

“I came to Third Street Alliance to seek shelter and safety,” Courtney said.

Many women that come to Third Street Alliance are like Courtney. In 2019, 45 percent of Homeless Services clients indicated that they were survivors of domestic abuse or violence; 30 percent said it was the primary reason they were homeless.

During the shutdowns due to the pandemic, there were surges in domestic violence hotlines and text lines across the nation. Third Street Alliance experienced less calls from Children and Youth and more calls about domestic abuse.

“People are at home with their abusers much more and those who have been violated are reaching out for help,” said Janice Thomas, director of Homeless Services.

Since April this year, about 30 percent of the women and families staying in the shelter have indicated that they were survivors of domestic abuse. But that number could be higher.

“As I looked at the data, the reality is I know the number is higher,” Janice said. “It wasn’t indicated during the intake process because some women are embarrassed or they didn’t consider or realize it was domestic abuse or violence.”

Many times, it takes a series of conversations with our Homeless Services staff to understand that a woman and her family have suffered from some kind of domestic abuse. When that happens, our staff will take steps to help that person get any help they need, including legal assistance, if necessary.

During the pandemic, Third Street Alliance Case Manager January Sleiman has been able to refer shelter residents to several counseling services that are conducted over the phone, including Turning Point of the Lehigh Valley and the Crime Victims Council.

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For Courtney, she was glad the staff was there to point her in the right direction when it came to applying for assistance, getting help to help overcome the abuse she faced, getting her daughters into child care, and finding a job.

“I’m still figuring things out; I’m learning more and believing in myself more. I’m really proud of myself and where I’ve come from,” Courtney said. “It’s because of Third Street, I am who I am today.”

If you, or someone you know, are experiencing domestic abuse, please call 211, 610-437-3369 (Turning Point of the Lehigh Valley), or 800-799-SAFE (7233) (National Hotline). 

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