Warning: This story contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering.
Please read with caution.
*picture is a stock photo
Lucy grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the youngest child of six siblings. Growing up, Lucy was mostly tended to by her oldest sisters, which meant no one was there to intervene when her older brother started molesting her at the age of eight. It continued for years. She was afraid to tell her siblings and parents because of the stigma and shame attached to her experience.
As she grew older, some of her sisters moved to America. Lucy was a teenager by then and was very suicidal. She didn’t want to tell her sisters why, but she admitted she needed help and wanted to come to America. Eventually, she was trafficked in to Florida to work on a strawberry farm. It was there that she met the father of her first child. He was physically abusive towards her, but eventually she escaped with her young son and went to live with one of her sisters.
Lucy was happy there with her son for almost ten years. Then, she met another man, Marcus, who treated her well. After dating for several months, they moved in together and had a child. Everything seemed to be going well, and Lucy was so happy. Then, Marcus received a child support notice in the mail. Lucy hadn’t known he had another family.
Marcus traveled to California to address the child support charge and didn’t come back for five months. When he did return, he was different. He was sullen and irritable and beat Lucy when the children were too loud. He was secretive, too, leaving without telling her where he was going and staying up all night.
Eventually, Lucy found out he was using cocaine. It continued until one night, he stole all her money, overdosed, and ended up in the hospital. When he came back, he quit drinking and doing drugs. He said he was committed to their relationship and things returned to normal for a while. But after making a new friend there who was using, Marcus fell back into his old habits. He told her she couldn’t leave him – she didn’t speak English and was undocumented; he could speak English and was an American citizen. Who would believe her if she went for help?
It all came to a breaking point one morning when Lucy was getting ready for work. After a violent confrontation with Marcus, she was able to get her and her children's things and went to stay with a friend. A few days later, he tried to force his way into Lucy’s friend’s house to get the children. Her oldest son called Lucy at work when it happened, frantic and scared. She was able to call Marcus and divert him; instead of going after her children, he showed up at Lucy’s work. He tried to kidnap her, dragging her to his truck, but her coworkers intervened and called the police.
The police arrested Marcus, and Lucy cooperated in their investigation, obtaining an injunction for protection to keep her and her family safe. She received help from a local domestic violence shelter who referred her to GLS. We are currently helping Lucy obtain a U-Visa, so she doesn’t have to worry about being separated from her children, who are American citizens.
Right now, Lucy is working on stabilizing her employment, reconnecting with friends and family, and getting counseling for her children. Recently, she found out Marcus had been arrested for the assault of another woman. She was thankful to have gotten away from him when she did, to have representation and support from GLS when she found out, and to know her case is being monitored by people she trusts.
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