[Disclaimer: Identifying details have been changed to protect and respect the individual]
November 21st, 2015
“Hablas español?” was her first question.
It was my third shift as a hotline worker at Safe Passage –an organization that addresses domestic and sexual violence in the Hampshire County. The phone started ringing, which meant that someone was in some sort of unsafe and threatening situation that involved violence, and therefore, needed someone’s help... my help. This was my very first call.
She began telling me her story. They met two years ago, and had a long distance relationship until she moved from the Dominican Republic all the way to Massachusetts –with her 10-year-old son– only to be with this person. Everything was supposed to go well, but her partner started to be emotionally and mentally abusive. She began threatening and manipulating her. An unemployed, queer, single mother, and recent immigrant to the country with absolutely no English skills – where could she go? Her partner didn’t want her to get a job or leave the house so [she] didn’t tell her where things are in the area. They’re nowhere close to any bus stops or places she could go to. She’s crying, asking me to help her find a room somewhere. She’s running out of money, she’s running out of time. She’s hopeless.
My job is to give her emotional support and offer possible resources she could use. So that’s what I do.
“Eres un ángel”, she tells me, with a desperate but grateful voice.
But then, what? How am I supposed to hang up the phone and move on? They tell you in training to limit every call to no more than 20 minutes if the individual is not in a dangerous or life threatening situation. They tell you in training that that’s just how it is.
Is it, really? There must be something else I can do.
Well maybe this is it.