Standing with Survivors

Project SAVE ends intimate partner abuse by empowering survivors regardless of income.

Domestic violence can be a difficult subject to think about, but with over 5,000 Louisiana women experiencing some form of domestic violence each year and Louisiana ranked in the top ten most dangerous states for women, it is a necessary subject to discuss. This past year, Project SAVE helped a client named Vontrelle.

233 individuals experiencing domestic abuse received legal assistance through Project SAVE last year.

The father of Vontrelle’s children had previously slammed her to the ground, slapped her in the face, threw things at her, and cursed out her and the kids. Things escalated to the point that “Javier,” who had struggled with mental health issues, locked himself inside Vontrelle’s house with the children and tried to take their son who is on the autism spectrum. Fearing for her children’s safety, she contacted the police and met with Project SAVE. She shares, “The Project SAVE staff were so helpful and made me feel like family. Instead of just going in and signing paperwork, I could tell they really cared. It was personal instead of just being one out of a million clients.”

The Power of Hope

Vontrelle works at Ochsner and juggles the responsibilities of being a working mom. Project SAVE can serve defendants like Javier with paperwork so that survivors do not have to take off additional time from work and find childcare for extra court time. Allyson Tuttle, Program Director, was able to get Vontrelle a protective order, which meant that “Javier” has to stay away from Vontrelle and her kids, including on school property. He was ordered to undergo a psychology evaluation, and the NOPD was sent to his home to retrieve any firearms.

"Instead of focusing on the abuse or what would happen in court, I can now focus on my sons. It has made me a better mom."

Sighing with relief, Vontrelle discloses, “Now that everything is settled, I feel like I have my freedom and my life back. Instead of focusing on the abuse or what would happen in court, I can now focus on my sons. It has made me a better mom. I finally feel like I am “me” again. I’m hopeful and feel like I have control over my future.”

Reflecting on this particular case, Allyson stated, “Seeing Vontrelle at peace with the security that her children are safe is so rewarding. She has taught her children that no one deserves to live in fear or be abused. By making these decisions, she not only has empowered herself, but her sons are now more empowered to make healthy choices too.”

Recognizing Signs of Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse can lead people to believe that they will never escape the control of their abuser, but there are signs to look for to help friends or family members who are being abused. For example, people experiencing physical abuse may wear long sleeves or scarves in hot weather to hide injuries and have inconsistent stories about how they sustained those injuries. Domestic abuse is not about violence, though; it is about control.

Domestic abuse rates for Louisiana

Indicators that someone is being controlled or abused may look like: they ask for permission from their partner to go anywhere, they refer to their partner as “jealous” or possessive, they have little access to available money, and/or the partner constantly contacts them to know what they are doing. Emotional signs that point to abuse include increased privacy or cutting off contact with loved ones, cancelling appointments or dropping out of activities they would usually enjoy, becoming overly anxious to please their partner, and/or revealing that their partner has a bad temper when drinking alcohol. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, there is hope. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, and learn more about Project SAVE here