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Survivor Story: Desirée (2000’s)

Desirée had been a client at Family Rescue for over two years when her ex-boyfriend, whom we’ll call Justin, broke her front windows. She filed misdemeanor charges, he was convicted of criminal damage to property, and the client received a two-year order of protection. This, however, is not the end of her story.

The night after he was convicted, he came back to her home. He broke in, demolished in the interior, and beat her with a steel pipe. He subsequently fled to Memphis, TN and hid for about three months, hoping that was enough time for Desirée to move on from his actions. It was not.

Desirée stayed in contact with her advocate at Family Rescue during those three months and continued to safety plan for whenever he returned. She was terrified of his arrival, but she refused to allow that fear to take over her life.

In June 2002, she received a call and the voice on the other end send chills down her spine. It was Justin, making it clear that he was back and would be stopping by for an uninvited visit. A few days later, he kept his promise and threw a brick through her front window. What he didn’t realize was that Desirée’s son was home, who chased after him, and held him until the police arrived. The police expected to charge him again with destruction of property, unaware of his crimes three months prior. Once Desirée told her advocate what had happened, her advocate made several calls to the police to explain the past events, and why this was more than just destruction of property. Eventually, she reached the Lieutenant of the Detective Division. After informing the lieutenant of the abuser’s previous actions, the Lieutenant said he would make sure detectives charged Justin with more than just destruction of property. He made good on his promise.

On April 29, 2003, the abuser was sentenced to eight years for the felony home invasion and five years for the felony aggravated domestic battery. Armed with her children and her advocate by her side, Desirée endured all the preliminary court dates, the trial, and eventual conviction. Together with her advocate, she was able to compose and reach her impact statement at his sentencing. She received an Order of Protection that lasted throughout his imprisonment and for two years after his release. Thanks to Family Rescue’s advocate’s work with the State’s Attorney’s Office, she was notified of his release in 2011.

During their years together, Justin has put Desirée into a great amount of debt. Her advocate helped the client pay her mortgage with the use of FEMA funds and helped her obtain Crime Victims’ Compensation to replace her windows and pay her ambulance bill from when he beat her with the steel pipe. That holiday season, Desirée’s advocate signed her up to get a food basket for Thanksgiving and Christmas presents for her and her children. Her daughter also got into a summer program with a scholarship. Desirée and her advocate stayed in close contact throughout Justin’s prison time in addition to getting the client’s daughter into a summer program through a scholarship. The client and her Family Rescue Advocate remain in close contact. During his sentence, she continued to attend weekly counseling sessions and eventually chose to move out of state around the time of Justin’s release.