The first time that Manavi (her name has been changed to protect her identity) met her husband was on their wedding day. As is customary in their Indian culture, her marriage was arranged by a facilitator hired by their parents. But soon after Manavi joined her husband in the U.S., she learned that he was a controlling and abusive spouse. “Right from the start, I had lots and lots of problems,” she says. “There was a lot of physical abuse.” Throughout the course of their marriage, her husband broke Manavi’s nose, hit her often, refused to give her money for food and kept her isolated.
Manavi was thankful to be accepted into HomeStart. “I was starting from nothing: no place to live, a few belongings and hardly any savings,” says Manavi. “I couldn’t work because my papers weren’t in place.” The case manager at HomeStart helped Manavi step-by-step: accompanying her to court hearings with her ex-husband; helping arrange for a child care scholarship so she could work; connecting her with resources to help her job search and with her daughter’s behavioral issues. Manavi says that having a place like HomeStart, where she could stay for an extended period, was instrumental in enabling her to change her life. “The whole foundation (of my current life) is built on the help I got at HomeStart."
After living at HomeStart for one year, Manavi and her daughter moved into Section Eight federally subsidized housing. Only two months later, she was able to save enough money to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Raleigh. “I have a job that I love in the budget office of the Department of Health and Human Services,” she says. “My life now is very good. I have a good place to live, a good job, and my daughter is doing well. It’s very good to have shelters and places to help you but there is no feeling like being independent and taking care of yourself.”