Alyssa* had been living with her parents and was restricted to a wheelchair due to under-developed limbs. She was abused by her father and denied access to her four-year old son. She escaped the abusive situation by fleeing to a local shelter. But that shelter was not handicap accessible, and Alyssa was forced to crawl to use the bathroom while due to the lack of assistive technology to accommodate her needs. Alyssa contacted Women Against Abuse, and moved to the Women Against Abuse Emergency Shelter, which is equipped with handicapped accessible features.
While at the shelter, Alyssa worked with case managers to transition into her own housing. Staff members researched handicapped accessible locations and found an affordable arrangement that worked for Alyssa and her son.
In addition, Legal Center attorneys helped Alyssa file a protection from abuse order against her father, and also receive a court order for Alyssa’s son to be returned to her. When Alyssa’s father continued to refuse to relinquish her son and her assistive technology equipment, WAA staff asked law enforcement to intervene.
Alyssa and the Women Against Abuse staff had to overcome some false perceptions of individuals who have disabilities. Segments of the law enforcement field refused to intervene when Alyssa’s father would not return her son, claiming Alyssa could not care for him. Women Against Abuse staff reminded law enforcement officials that the court order deemed Alyssa a fit parent, and reached out to the Sheriff’s Department to enforce the order. Through the collaborative work of the Legal Center and Emergency Shelter, Alyssa was able to provide parental care to her son and live independently, free from violence.
*Client’s name has been changed to preserve confidentiality.