Assignment: Domestic Violence Survivors

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Assignment: Domestic Violence Survivors

Assignment: Domestic Violence Survivors

: The Case of Charo

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Charo is a 34-year-old, heterosexual, Hispanic female. She is unemployed and currently lives in an apartment with her ve chil- dren, ages 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8. She came to this country 8 years ago from Mexico with her husband, Paulo. During intake, Charo reported that she suffered severe abuse and neglect in the home as a child and rape as a young adult. Charo does not speak English and currently does not have a visa to work.

Charo initially came for services at our domestic violence agency because Child Protective Services (CPS) and the court ordered her to attend a domestic violence support group after allegations of domestic violence were made by one of her chil- dren to a teacher at their school. Her husband was ordered to attend a batterer’s intervention program (BIP). Charo attended the domestic violence support group but seldom said a word. Although she rarely shared during group, she also rarely missed a session. While she attended the group, she also met with me weekly for individual sessions. During these sessions I informed her of the dynamics of domestic violence and helped her create a safety plan. She often said that she was only attending the group because it was mandated and that she just wanted CPS to close her case. One week, Charo suddenly stopped attending group. When I called her, she said that she had been busy and unable to attend. That same day her husband called me to verify that I was who his wife said I was, as he often accused Charo of having affairs.

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Charo showed up to group again one day after a 3-month absence. Her appearance was disheveled, and she had lost a signi cant amount of weight. The next day she called me and requested an emergency individual session. During the session, she reported that her husband had an imaginary friend who was telling him to kill her and that the previous weekend he had placed a knife on her pillow and threatened to take her life. Charo stated that her husband would force her to wear short skirts and bleach

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SOCIAL WORK CASE STUDIES: FOUNDATION YEAR

her hair. He would also throw plates of food on the oor and walls of the house whenever meals were not to his satisfaction. She said he would spend his days drinking alcohol with friends and would beat her relentlessly in front of the children. She told me she had thought he would change after CPS became involved but that, instead, his abuse became more calculating and discreet.

I worked on an updated safety plan with the client, and she agreed to hide herself and the children in the agency’s safe house. The safety plan included information on obtaining a restraining order, going into a safe house, identifying safe people she could talk to, and teaching the children safety planning strategies as well as tips on important documentation and the importance of journ- aling all signi cant details of the abuse. Charo’s husband showed up outside of the agency that day while she was there and called her phone repeatedly. Charo put the call on speaker so I could hear his voice. He ordered her to go outside and go home with him and made threats toward her. I called the police, and Charo’s husband was arrested outside of the agency. I went to the court- house with Charo, helping her le a temporary restraining order and providing her with emotional support throughout the experi- ence. After obtaining the restraining order, Charo and her ve children were admitted to the agency’s safe house.

While at the safe house, Charo met with me weekly for indi- vidual counseling and continued to attend the domestic violence support groups. She reported feeling damaged, ugly, and unlov- able. She also reported feeling anxious, depressed, and hopeless, crying often, and losing weight. Charo’s husband was eventually deported back to Mexico.

I discussed with Charo the dynamics of domestic violence and provided her with numerous resources that could serve as informal and formal supports to her and the children. Charo was referred to a psychiatrist, who prescribed 50 mg of Zoloft to help manage the anxiety and depressive symptoms she was experiencing. Charo began attending a church nearby where she quickly felt connected and also began attending English as a second language (ESL) classes twice a week. We met once a week for 9 months. During the rst 3 months, we focused on stabilization. During the second 3 months, we focused on decreasing symptoms of anxiety

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