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I had no idea who this man was anymore. I began to try and sort through all of his lies and thievery, which left my son and me in complete financial ruin. My bank account was empty, my cell phone bill was over $400 and our house phones had all been disconnected; there was no food in the house for three days, and the power was turned off.
I was living with a man who would fabricate the death of friends and relatives in order to have an excuse to access my bank account in order to feed his alcohol and drug additions. This sort of thing happening often caused me to doubt my own reality. The first time he said someone had died, it was his childhood friend. His friend, he claimed, died in Iraq. The guy, whose name I will not mention, never showed up on the lists of servicemen killed in this ongoing war.
While I was on bed rest, recuperating from a stressful pre-term labor and post partum depression; he told me he needed money to help with his sister’s drug addiction. He claimed he was paying for her rehab treatment. I wanted to meet his sister; he and I had agreed I would meet her after she finished a six-week rehab program. The night before I was to leave to meet her, he told me his sister had supposedly killed herself. I checked with the Los Angeles coroner and there was never a record of a verifiable death of his sister. His mother was supposedly in a psychiatric ward. For our entire relationship, there had been a recurring theme of him helping himself to my money. Very early on, he got a hold of my bankcard and blank checks and used them to the point where I had to dispute the charges. I had nothing left, not even my sanity.
With six minutes left on a temporary cell phone, I was able to call Jenesse. I was able to get to their confidential location.
Jackie graduated from Jenesse’s Transitional Program in January 2007, after only 1 year in the program. She has been moving forward ever since. Jackie is employed in the headquarters of a major jewelry company in Glendale, CA. She proudly boasts of finding a 20+ year old error in the Latin translation on a piece of jewelry. This earned her recognition from the company president. Since leaving Jenesse for permanent housing, Jackie has become an advocate for survivors of domestic violence and specifically Jenesse Center. She recently made a presentation before the Board of Directors of her company to solicit funds for our program.
I was a recent immigrant to this country and pregnant with my third child. I was experiencing an extremely high-risk pregnancy at the time, and was unsure what the outcome would be if I carried the baby to term. At the time, I was also experiencing some of the most horrific treatment a woman could go through. I was alone and confused about this man and about the uncertainty of my life and the lives of my two small children. This man, whom I thought loved me, would unplug the telephone from the jack before he left the house, and would dare me to leave or seek help from anyone. He would not deliver my messages and would brag to his friends that he could make me do whatever he wanted me to do.
He would demand sex from me, knowing of the risk involved, and he showed no concern regarding the multitude of tests I was taking. He even claimed that I got pregnant on purpose and that the baby I was carrying was not his. He would deliberately stress my two smaller children and me by slamming doors around the house and yelling at my children. He threatened me with a gun and I lived in fear of my life and the lives of my children every single day once the abuse started. When I found Jenesse Center, I had not slept in days; he threatened my children for the final time. I watched my children sleep and vowed that I would not put them through this again.
In the spring of 2007, Iona successfully graduated from Jenesse’s Transitional Housing Program after 2 years of carefully rebuilding her life. Using the skills she learned in Jenesse’s empowerment workshops and permanent housing assistance, Iona and her three children are happy, healthy and safely living in their own apartment. She is extremely grateful to Jenesse Center for the services that were provided to her and
When Lin, 21, entered Jenesse Center’s Transitional Housing Site she and her two children, Amber and Erik, were in need of a haven in which they could feel safe. The family was suffering a great deal of emotional trauma as a result of their ordeal and Jenesse Center facilitated both family and individual weekly counseling sessions that helped them bond as a family and allowed Lin to let go of her fears and take charge of her own life.
Lin enrolled in a local junior college and was able to get her children into day care so that she could work and go to school. She worked with her case manager to find permanent, affordable housing with the Los Angeles Housing Authority and she now has her own apartment that is minutes away from both her college and her childrenís daycare. Now a drop-in client, Maria continues to utilize the life saving services and programs that Jenesse Center offers as she continues to be empowered and self-sufficient.
Tonya, 26, and her son Tyrell entered Jenesse Center, Inc.’s Transitional Housing in need of counseling and legal services. Tonya was in the middle of a bitter custody fight with her abusive boyfriend and fighting off creditors due to her boyfriend using her name to purchase goods and services. Tonya also had no medical insurance for her son Tyrell, who is partly deaf, and her lack of education and resources, along with her ex-boyfriend’s tendency to stalk her at work, made it next to impossible for her to find employment.
Jenesse Center immediately went to work, referring Tonya to a hospital that would treat her son, putting the family in counseling, and referring her case to our in-house Legal Department. Jenesse’s on-staff lawyer assisted her in procuring a restraining order against her ex; got involved in her custody dispute, escorting Tanya during her court dates; and helped her with her creditors.
Jenesse Center worked with Wal-Mart to get Tonya a job and she was quickly promoted to manager of her department. Jenesse Center also opened up a dialogue with Wal-Mart management to educate them and their employees on how to handle incidents of domestic violence in the workplace. Soon after winning custody of her son, Tonya found her own apartment and through a referral from Jenesse Center was able to obtain three months free rent through a family preservation service, as well as a stove and a refrigerator. She has exited the program, but still participates in Jenesse Center’s programs and services as a Drop-in client.
Amy, 41, had been mentally and physically abused by her boy friend for six years. She caught the bus to the shelter from Bakersfield and upon entering the shelter she was soon diagnosed by one of Jenesse Center’s on-site medical professionals as suffering from bi-polar disorder.
Jenesse Center immediately referred Amy to a hospital that supplied her with affordable medicine and helped her understand her condition. She was also referred to West Central Mental Hospital for weekly counseling sessions. Jenesse Center also enrolled Amy in their mental health and anger management classes and she soon felt strong enough to live on her own and was confident that she could be self-sufficient and live a normal life. She was awarded a Section 8 voucher through the Los Angeles Housing Authority and found permanent housing. She still receives counseling and medical referrals from Jenesse Center.
**Names and certain events have been changed to protect the client’s identity.
“Jenesse opened the door for me and my kids and helped me set my life back on track. I learned that I did not have to be down no more and I learned how to love myself. Jenesse helped save me and my kids’ lives.“ – Violet
“I think that if more people knew that there are programs like this then they wouldn’t stay in Domestic Violence situations for so long. I love the staff. I love the environment. They are people here who care about us and care about what we think.“ – Sonya
“The Jenesse Center is the answer to so many prayers that I prayed. I’ve never been more grateful to be somewhere in my life. I feel cared for and safe, and surrounded by resources. I love this program so much and now I know that I can succeed out there.“ – Tiffani
“The classes and instructors are great, they care and they are willing to help you go the extra mile. They push you with encouragement to do your best. Being here has helped me empower myself to be a strong minded woman and a mother who is more open to people.“ – Vonda
“Before I came to Jenesse I was in a shelter that did not want to deal with a pregnant woman who had two kids. Then a person who turned out to be my angel helped me find Jenesse. Jenesse helped me reach for a better life. I felt safe and positive and even went back to school. But the best part was knowing that my kids were safe. Jenesse made my life better and I will be grateful for the rest of my life.“ – Tolisha
“Being a man who is a victim of domestic violence is hard. Jenesse helped me and my kids and I never felt like they were judging me. I am grateful for that.“ – Tony