On a cold winter night, 19-year-old Maia rushed into a convenience store in pajamas, wrapped up in a blanket. “I need help,” she told the cashier at the front door. “I’m in danger.”
Maia had been held hostage by her boyfriend, Ryan, at the hotel across the street. When they first met, Ryan, who seemed so smart and funny, had become controlling; he was involved in a sex trafficking ring and was grooming Maia to be a part of it. He had been withholding food and access to her phone and didn’t allow her to leave the hotel room. He forced her to use drugs as another tactic of control. When Ryan went on a rare errand, Maia took her opportunity to escape.
The cashier called the local police, who knew getting Maia in touch with HAWC’s emergency services would be critical to her safety. When the call came in, the HAWC team mobilized.
HAWC arranged for Maia to stay in a secure hotel. Her advocate purchased clothing, food, and necessities and brought them to Maia. Maia stayed in the hotel for a month while the HAWC team worked tirelessly with community partner Centerboard in Lynn to find a more permanent and safe solution for Maia.
In Maia’s case, HAWC was able to intervene so quickly and effectively because of emergency direct client expense funding we received through federal grants in response to COVID-19. In normal circumstances, there is not enough funding to provide this level of support to every person who needs it, and unfortunately, this funding is due to expire at the end of this fiscal year, June 30, 2021.
This is where you come in. We are creating the Direct Client Expense Fund to help people like Maia bridge the gap created when they are working at building a safer life.
Here is an example of what your support could help us accomplish:
Maia was likely at the highest risk of harm during those first few weeks and months after she fled the dangerous relationship. Without HAWC’s swift support, she might not have been able to escape permanently.
Today, Maia lives in a shelter program out of state and is waiting for her application for permanent housing to be approved. She is free of substance use, has a job, and is enrolled in therapy to help her process the sexual trauma she has experienced. When HAWC’s Manager of Legal Services checked in with her recently, Maia was incredibly grateful for the help HAWC was able to provide.
“I felt so alone. Without any money or a place to go, I didn’t have much hope about being able to leave my boyfriend. But when HAWC helped me,” Maia shared, “I started to believe that I could get out. Thank you for all that you have done for me.”