Video Transcript: Stay Safe, Get Support

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Stay Safe, Get Support
A Child Support Response to Family Violence

Alicia Key:  My name’s Alicia Key. I’m the Deputy Attorney General for Child Support and the Director of the Child Support Division. What I want our Child Support staff to understand is that family violence issues can be present in any given case. It doesn’t matter the age of the people, the education, the race, the social status, their finances. It’s not always about physical abuse. The violence can be more about control and intimidation, and our staff needs to realize that it’s not always really obvious.

Erin Goodison (advocate): Family violence is a pattern of abusive, coercive, and controlling actions, when one partner in a relationship will take almost any means necessary to exert control over the other partner. That can include a lot of perfectly legal actions, though they may not be nice, like verbal abuse, isolation, shaming, blaming, manipulation, guilt, control of finances in the relationship; but it also can include illegal actions like threats, specific threats of physical harm or to kill, as well as physical or sexual violence.

Michelle (survivor): He had threatened that you’re going to be on the streets, you’re going to be on food stamps, nobody’s going to listen to you, nobody is going to believe you. And I remember thinking, “He’s right.”

Tiffany (survivor): When I was in the domestic violence shelter, one of the social workers—she mentioned child support to me at the time. I was fleeing my abuser at that time. The first thing that came to my mind: Oops, child support—No. Because I was trying to just survive pretty much and I just wanted to stay away from him and whatever I had to do to keep the peace, if it was not getting child support or whatever it was, I just didn’t want to be bothered with that.

Christina Coultas (advocate): I think filing for child support can create some danger potentially for someone. And filing for child support is kind of…can be the first step for many victims where they’re officially kind of telling the batterer ‘I’m not coming back.’ And it takes away some power from the batterer and that can be dangerous.

Michelle (survivor): I remember thinking, even if I did not have faith in myself I couldn’t let my children know that this was ok. Even if I was going to be on the streets, even if I was going to be on food stamps. For me to get out of the situation, or anybody to get out of the situation especially the children, who are very innocent. If you can get through this, get through this and be strong and it’s hard. It’s scary. But I would say…I would say, honestly, rely on the system. It’s there for you.

Tiffany (survivor): Even though I went through that process, and it was lengthy and it was stressful, it was scary, at the end I held on and it paid off. I bought my first home about 6 years ago by myself and with the help of child support.

Jessica (survivor): Hubo una persona en la oficina de manutención de niños que desde que yo llegue la primera visita ella estuvo junto a mí.  Y siempre estuvo diciendo que todo iba a estar bien, que no tuviera miedo, que yo no era la persona que estaba haciendo el daño. Que yo no le estaba haciendo daño a nadie no mas estaba peleando derechos  sobre mis hijas. Pienso que esa persona me dio mucho aliento, y mucho valor para seguir adelante.

There was a person at the child support office that from the moment I got there at the first visit, she was with me. She always said that everything was gonna be alright, not to be scared because I wasn’t doing anything wrong. That I was the person fighting for my daughters’ rights. I think that person gave me a lot of support and courage to continue.

Courtney Sanchez (survivor and advocate): I want to say to all the survivors that are out there, congratulations on making the first step, because that’s a huge thing to step out of the violence and be able to separate yourself enough from the situation to make a new step into your new life, so congratulations. And just know that there are tools, there are resources. And there are just so many people that want to encourage you in this new reality without violence.

Alicia Key: What is so important is that we work together. We need you to tell us, please tell us, if you have safety concerns. Tell us your story. Tell us what’s happening in your situation. We want to give you the tools and the information that you need to make the best decision for you and your family.

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National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
www.thehotline.org