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Sonya was with her husband more than 17 years before she left. His drinking and drug abuse had escalated and with it so had his vicious behavior towards her and their five children.

She says, “There were triggers that would happen every day. If you looked at him the ‘wrong way’ he would scream and curse at me in front of the children, throw things, punch holes in walls. He would pull his fist back in my face and tell me to go away, or that I was going to get hurt. He was explosive and sometimes violent.”

One day, she made a plan to leave. Her husband at first told her he was sorry and asked her to come back, but later started harassing her with 30, 50 or more abusive and threatening emails, voicemails and social media messages each day until Sonya had to shut down the accounts. “He told me ‘This doesn’t stop until my suicide or your murder. Beg forgiveness and come back.’”

When she confided to a friend what was happening, Sonya learned about the Family Justice Center. There she found the help and support she needed from Helpmate and Pisgah Legal Services. 

The process has been long and difficult one, but after more than three years of ongoing work with Pisgah Legal Services, Sonya has now divorced her husband and has custody of their children. 

Sonya says, “Without having support from Pisgah Legal and Helpmate I would not have pursued a restraining order. I wouldn’t have even known how to get myself into the next phase. And I’m college educated, and I have a lot of community resources, but it was so overwhelming to me and such a foreign concept of the way the court system was working. Every time I read through the documents – partially I’m sure because it triggered the trauma we that had experienced – I literally would read it and think I don’t even know where to start.”