Elizabeth discovered that her abusive husband had been abusing her oldest daughter, and when DCFS got involved, he disappeared along with their money. Elizabeth was left to rebuild her life and help her daughter heal — all while reliving her own childhood sexual trauma.
“I never got therapy as a child, so my daughter’s experience brought it all back,” she said.
She sought help from our North Center’s Spanish-speaking domestic violence support group, Pa Lante, where staff quickly realized Elizabeth needed additional services to help her family recover. They referred her to the Victim Legal Assistance Network.
A collaborative initiative between Metropolitan, Illinois Legal Aid Online, and dozens of other agencies, the Victim Legal Assistance Network (VLAN) uses a comprehensive, holistic model to ensure that victims of crime get access to the wide range of services they may need after their victimization.
VLAN case manager Eligia Milan became Elizabeth’s central point of contact, as well as her therapist. Elizabeth came to the same Metropolitan office to see her Legal Aid Society attorney, who helped her get an order of protection and a divorce, and apply for immigration relief. As she began to address her past trauma, she was also better able to help her daughter.
“It’s a big part of therapy,” she said, “learning how to relate to her and help her heal, and understanding why she reacts the way she does.”
Now with Eligia’s help, Elizabeth is signing up for English and GED classes, as well as the Parenting Fundamentals program. Next on her agenda is financial counseling, since her ex-husband controlled their money.
“I never thought I could get all that help in one place,” Elizabeth said. With all the resources available to her, Elizabeth feels like the future is wide open. “I’m looking for a new job. I want to further my career and work toward something more.”