Belen’s story Pro bono representation—Order of protection and child custody
“I was able to receive my freedom from a relationship that shouldn’t have happened. This experience has taught me that there is always a way out of a bad situation.”
Belen, an undocumented immigrant from Brazil and mother of a three-year old daughter, came to inMotion seeking assistance with a permanent order of protection and child custody.
Belen had survived years of harrowing physical and psychological abuse by her boyfriend, who was the father of her child. On several occasions, her boyfriend had prostituted Belen as a means of controlling and humiliating her. When she resisted or tried to leave him, he threatened to take her daughter away and have Belen deported.
After years of living in fear for her life, Belen found the courage to leave her abuser and fled with her daughter to a domestic violence shelter. Belen obtained a temporary order of protection against her boyfriend, but he immediately violated the protective order by leaving threatening messages on her cell phone and at the homes of her friends and family in an attempt to locate Belen and her daughter. The domestic violence shelter referred Belen to inMotion.
InMotion quickly referred Belen’s case to Eugene Chidiebere Anyikwa,
a volunteer attorney with a private practice in the Bronx,as Belen’s next court date was just days away.
The Family Court judge found Belen’s case compelling and commended her lawyer for accepting the case on such short notice. Ultimately, the court granted Belen full custody of her daughter and a permanent order of protection.
Because of the free legal assistance Belen received through inMotion, she and her daughter are now safe from violence and working to rebuild their lives. Belen states, “Eugene is my lifesaver. I am alive, my daughter is safe. Everything in our lives is now changed. We owe him everything.”
Note: All clients' names and personal details have been changed to protect their identities.