The makeup only hid so much. When she turned and saw her son watching from the hallway, Allison knew it was time to break free from her abusive partner and the father of her son.
"I blocked a lot of things out to survive the eight years I had to deal with him," Allison says of her abusive partner. "I had to write down what he wanted for dinner [because] if I asked him a second time, I'd get punched in the face."
Determined to find safety for herself and her son, Allison sought legal protection.
"When I went in for my first protection from abuse hearing against my son's father, I was petrified...my son's father had an attorney, but I didn't. After the hearing, the judge dismissed my case," Allison said, recalling that dark time. "I was afraid because my son's father told me that he had connections...that's the reason I stayed with him so long - I was afraid I'd lose my son. I knew I'd have an uphill battle."
But Allison would not give up. She sought help from the Women Against Abuse Legal Center. With the support of a Women Against Abuse attorney, Allison was granted a protection from abuse order as well as custody of her son. Her former partner was allowed only supervised visitation, and Allison was able to keep the location of her home confidential for added security.
"There are a lot of things that no one tells you and that you don't know going into court," Allison said. "It's not what you expect; you can't rely on what friends and family tell you, even if they have experienced it, because their case might be nothing like yours. There's a lot I learned for the first time through my attorney."
Women Against Abuse provides attorney representation, court advocacy and telephone counseling to more than 6,000 survivors of domestic violence like Allison each year.
*Name changed to maintain client anonymity.
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