Stories of Survival

Hear from our incredible clients

Meena discovered a path to freedom and independence

“I was emotionally broken and isolated when I came to Sanctuary for Families. Today I feel successful and whole.”

Meena was married for just one month when she began to notice something was wrong. Her husband, a prominent businessman, was acting increasingly controlling and difficult. Seemingly small bouts of anger escalated, and in time, Meena was regularly subjected to extreme physical and mental abuse.

“He made me feel worthless, like I had no future,” says Meena. “Like the abuse was my fault.”

Four years after her marriage began, Meena fled with her two-year old daughter Shari to a domestic violence shelter in Queens. She carried nothing more than a few small possessions.  She had no money, no support, and without legal immigration status, she knew finding living wage work would be next to impossible.

The shelter referred Meena to Melissa, an immigration lawyer with Sanctuary’s Legal Center. With Melissa’s support and guidance, and the assistance of pro bono attorneys from a major New York City law firm, Meena obtained immigration status and a work permit.

“Meena was afraid and overwhelmed when we first met, like so many victims when they first seek help,” says Melissa. “But she was determined, and together we navigated the complexities of her immigration case.”

Armed with her work papers, Meena enrolled in our innovative Economic Empowerment Program. The EEP staff immediately recognized Meena’s potential, and got her started on resume writing, career mentorship, and intensive computer training.

“My counselor, Saloni, gave me the skills I needed to feel confident and move forward, while the other women enrolled in EEP were a constant source of positive energy when I was feeling uncertain about the future.”

With EEP’s help, in early 2012, Meena obtained a full-time job earning $25,000 a year as a campus recruiter. Less than 18 months later, she advanced to a higher-level job and today earns $75,000.

Today, Meena is happily remarried, and her daughter Shari is thriving. Meena’s financial independence ensures that she and Shari will remain free from abuse.

Meena’s courageous journey from homelessness and fear to self-sufficiency means that she and Shari can finally have a bright future.