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Lamar loved her, provided for her, and protected her for a year that Laticia remembers as nothing but wonderful.

But as time wore on, things grew shaky. He would get mad and belittle her, blame her for everything, and became increasingly controlling. “If you move, I will break every bone in your body,” he would threaten to keep Laticia from going outside.

Afraid, Laticia tried to appease Lamar by submitting to his requests and learning to avoid his triggers. She tried to keep him from getting angry, but he would still call her names and shower her with insults no matter what she did. He would wake her up in the middle of the night, and Laticia — startled and alarmed — would have no time to collect herself. One day, he woke her up and hit her so hard that she ended up in the hospital.

“I tried to get out over and over again,” she remembered, but her family couldn’t help. She called the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline for admission to Women Against Abuse’s shelter, but the times she called, there were no beds available. One time she found safety in a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Norristown, but she soon left due to the inconvenience and difficulty of being away from her family.

With nowhere else to turn, she slept on the street for nights at a time before returning to Lamar, just to have a roof over her head and food to eat. She was trying to pull her life together, but the abuse set her ten steps back.

In 2010, Laticia was finally admitted to WAA’s emergency shelter, the only shelter for victims of domestic violence in Philadelphia. 

She stayed for three months, recovering from sheer exhaustion and the impact of the abuse. Supportive services helped connect her with financial assistance so she could start to become self-sufficient. Case managers linked her with job and education opportunities. They made sure she had safe housing upon exit from shelter so Laticia wouldn’t have to return to Lamar.

Upon exit from shelter, Laticia continued to receive one-on-one support through WAA’s Safe at Home program, which helped her budget her finances, seek employment, plan for long-term safety, and apply for permanent housing through the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Finally safe after three years of abuse, Laticia now lives with her children in a 3-bedroom apartment, and she has the resources to take care of her family. “I’m doing what makes me happy,” she said, and “fulfilling my dream.”

Names in this story have been changed to protect client anonymity.

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