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Call Us at: 954-736-2400 | Open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm

Story of Justice: CCLA’s Holistic Legal Services Support Rosa Through a Difficult Time

Good Story Family Law & Victims of Crime Unit Holistic DV Injunction, Paternity, Victim Compensation, Food Stamps, Immigration

One night, Rosa was home with her son. Her ex-boyfriend is her son’s father. At that time, they were no longer together romantically, but they still lived together with their child. They slept in separate rooms. When she went to sleep that night, her abuser was not home. Her son was asleep in his bedroom, and she was in her room. She was messaging with one of her friends when she fell asleep. Suddenly, she was her abuser woke her. He was in her room yelling at her. He said he went through her phone and saw a message to another man who was a mutual friend of theirs. Even though they had been living as roommates for the past two years, not as a couple, he was still upset with her for messaging with another man. He accused her of having a sexual relationship with this man. Then, he punched her in the face and beat her all over her body causing excruciating pain. He called her names and threatened her as he continued to beat her. By the time Rosa was able to get to her feet, he was in her face. He had her cornered between the bed and the wall. Her abuser had threatened her, beat her, and made her fear for her life in the past, but she had never felt as much fear as she did that night. She wanted to get out of the house and away from him so she told him whatever she thought he needed to hear. She said that she was hurt and wanted to go outside and smoke a cigarette. She was in a lot of pain and was holding her side. He let her walk past him but followed her closely. She saw that the neighbor’s light was on so she stood where she thought someone could see her, hoping that would keep her abuser from attacking her again. Eventually, they went back inside. Rosa went back inside to her room, but she couldn’t sleep because of the intense pain. Her abuser must have heard her struggling with pain because he returned to her room. He offered to take her to the hospital, but she asked him “What we would tell the hospital about my injuries?” He said “Tell them you fell.” Rosa didn’t want him to go to the hospital with her because she wanted to tell the truth about what he did.  She didn’t want him to be there when she told because she was scared of what he would do. After that, her abuser went back to his room and went to sleep. She knew she wouldn’t be able to safely leave until the morning when he went to work.

The next morning, her abuser left for work. Rosa went to the hospital. She was still in extreme pain. Her eye was bruised and swollen. The doctors told her she had two broken ribs and a punctured lung. They said that if she hadn’t come to the hospital she could have died. The hospital staff called the police for her. The police took pictures of her injuries and a sworn statement. Her abuser was arrested for aggravated battery with great bodily harm.

Once she was released from the hospital, the police department’s victim advocate took her to file a Petition for an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence against her abuser and referred the victim to Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida. CCLA represented Rosa at her return hearing. At the first hearing, the Injunction was extended and transferred to another judge because Rosa’s abuser hired a private attorney and filed a Paternity action. We accepted the Paternity case for representation as well and filed an Answer and Counter Petition for Paternity. CCLA negotiated an Order to allow for therapeutic, supervised time-sharing between the abuser and the child with the abuser bearing the costs and temporary child support for Rosa and her son. With the felony criminal charges still pending, the abuser ended up agreeing to the entry of a Final Judgment of Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence in effect until further order of the court. We encouraged our client to apply for victim’s compensation to obtain financial aid for her medical bills and worked with her police-based victim advocate to complete the application and gather all of the medical bills. Rosa was able to have her medical bills covered.

The Paternity case was still pending when the abuser was sentenced for the aggravated battery case for which he pled guilty. We were able to secure a Final Judgment of Paternity with our client retaining sole parental responsibility for the minor child, 100% time-sharing with the minor child, one telephone call per day between the abuser and child upon child’s request, and child support paid by the abuser. However, after his time served, the abuser was placed in deportation proceedings.

At CCLA, we understand how holistic legal assistance can stabilize a victim and reduce the possibility of returning to an abuser. We helped Rosa obtain food assistance benefits for her citizen child. Rosa also needed immigration assistance. We represented Rosa for her Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status as a victim of crime. We were able to gather the proper evidence and certification needed from law enforcement. However, the U-Visa process takes years. We filed her Petition and applied for employment authorization, and Rosa was able to obtain a temporary driver’s license. She was approved to work. We checked in throughout the almost five-year long wait. We helped Rosa at holiday time to buy presents for her and her son. We’ve watched her son grow into a teenager.

Recently, her U-Visa was approved! Rosa had the most positive, hopeful attitude throughout our time working with her. She is so grateful for our assistance and never misses a chance to thank us. Rosa’s case is truly a testament to the benefit of holistic legal services for victims of crime, especially victims of domestic and intimate partner violence.

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*Names, images, and details have been changed to protect our client’s privacy

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