In 2017, Nadia* came to House of Ruth Maryland with questions about the abuse she was facing in her home. She didn’t speak, read or write English. After speaking with a counselor, she decided she wasn’t ready to make the next step and ended the communication.
In 2019, times had changed and Nadia was ready to take the next step and House of Ruth Maryland was here to help.
“On average, a victim leaves her abuser 5-7 times before she leaves for good,” said Janice Miller, Director of Clinical Services and Programs at House of Ruth Maryland. “Which means she has often exhausted her personal circle of support but House of Ruth Maryland is ready to help when the victim is ready to take those next steps – no matter how many times they may only take one step - whether it’s simply establishing a safety plan while they continue to live with the abuser or to help her find a safe place to live,” said Miller. And that’s just what happened with Nadia.
In 2019, Nadia returned to House of Ruth Maryland and began working with a Bilingual Outreach Specialist. Although she was fearful of the process, Nadia worked with her Outreach Specialist to prepared for her appointment to file for a protective order. Not only was she prepared, Nadia did not have to go to the courthouse alone – House of Ruth Maryland was there to help her.
What may be most exciting about Nadia’s story is that Nadia was able to work with our legal clinic, she’s working with counseling for both her and her children AND, she has been able to work with our Safe Homes project to be placed in housing in Baltimore County. The Safe Homes project works with victims who meet certain qualifications to be placed in safe housing, on their own. The program includes rental assistance over a period of time to help them not only find the safe place, but to maintain the housing. “The rental assistance portion of Safe Homes is critical to the success of the program,” said Miller. “By giving them the opportunity to pay-off or catch up on other outstanding financial obligations, the step-down rental assistance provides victims the chance to stabilize their finances and begin to move forward.
Safe Homes program has been active at House of Ruth Maryland for several years and with a new federal grant that was received this year, the program will be expanded – from 30 families this year to over 100 families next year. The program has seen great success, with 80-85% of families maintaining their residence for more than 6 months. Participants in the program not only receive rental assistance but they continue to be connected with House of Ruth Maryland services – such as counseling and legal services – to continue to support them and to work with them to create a support network in the community.
“Our goal with the Safe Homes program is to provide victims with a fresh start and support that start, so that in the end, they don’t need us anymore,” said Miller. “We want to create stable, self-sufficient families in our community and that’s what the Safe Homes program does.”
*Names are changed to protect our client.