A Message From Our Executive Director
Talk to anyone in social services work right now and you’ll hear a similar theme — WHAT is going on?! Harbor House is no different. In the last five months, we have seen an extreme increase in the number of clients walking through our doors and the violence they are experiencing is highly escalated. Significant emotional and financial abuse, strangulation and child abuse are more commonplace among our clients than ever before.
As we head into this holiday season, it’s important for those of us living in safe homes, with financial security and robust support systems, to reflect on just how hard it is to achieve stability after experiencing domestic abuse.
This year, Harbor House had a client that we will call Jill. Jill had a full-time job, childcare and a car. Coming back to Harbor House one day, Jill’s car broke down on the side of the highway. Having no funds available to have her car towed or repaired, Jill abandoned the car there. She later found out that she received a $150+ ticket for leaving her car there plus the cost of towing the car to the impound lot and an additional $50/day fee for each day she left the car in the impound lot. Jill began to Uber back and forth to work each day, wondering how she would ever get out of this financial hole. Domestic abuse victim-survivors have often been so isolated from friends and family, that they have no one to call to borrow money from, no one to call for a ride to work and there is no social safety net to help in overcoming $50 a day impound fees.
Jill’s advocate began working with her to empower her to advocate for herself. Jill called the impound lot with her advocate and disclosed that she was working with Harbor House and she could lose her broken car and survive, but she couldn’t lose her children’s car seats and other personal items in the car and asked if there was an arrangement that could be made. The impound lot worked with Jill to lower the penalties and fees to make them much more affordable, and with the support of funds from Harbor House’s Barrier Removal Fund made possible by U.S. Venture, the debt was cleared.
With that win under her belt, Jill went on to advocate for herself in court, pass her driver’s license test, secure a new vehicle and finally, a safe and secure housing arrangement for her and her kids.
Advocacy is a word with many meanings that can often be misinterpreted or misunderstood — at Harbor House, advocacy is walking alongside our clients and helping them find their voice that has so often been taken from them in the cycle of abuse. It’s about helping our community understand the broad implications that domestic abuse has and working to grow the available resources available to survivors to secure safety and stability.
Supporting Harbor House — whether with donations of items or monetary gifts or by simply educating yourself about domestic violence — enables the advocacy we provide.