When Hannah* stepped onto her college campus for the first time, no one could tell just by looking at her that the burden she carried far exceeded the weight of her backpack. After years of keeping her traumatic past a secret, Hannah finally felt safe enough to seek help through therapy on her college campus. She shared that she had been repeatedly sexually molested by her father and he had also isolated her from her family.
Without the benefit of legal counsel, Hannah sought a sexual assault protection order against her father, which was granted. Because of the statutory limitations of this type of protection order, her father could not be ordered to keep away from her university campus, place of employment or her home and there was no provision to prohibit him from owning firearms. Undeterred, Hannah contacted the Heartland Family Service Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault program for help. Through the Legal Services, Advocacy Services, and Therapeutic Services at Heartland Family Service, Hannah finally found the help she needed in her dangerous situation.
To add to Hannah’s pain, her father attempted suicide, unable to face the criminal consequences. At a time when her only worry should have been her new college classes, weekend plans, and occasional homesickness, Hannah was dealing with her father’s pending criminal charges, his attempted suicide, and her status as the primary witness in the court case.
Hannah’s main goal in coming to Heartland Family Service, was to get help amending her sexual assault protection order to a domestic abuse protection order, which would include more protections against her father being in contact with her. Additionally, she requested that her father be prohibited from coming to her university campus, place of employment, and her grandparents’ home.
Hannah also requested that her father not be allowed to own firearms, and he initially opposed her request to amend the order.
However, with the assistance of Heartland Family Service’s Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Legal Services attorney, the
order was amended. Now that her legal setbacks were amended, she began attending therapy to also mend the trauma she endured.
With the strength she found through therapy, she and her family reconnected and began working to reestablish their relationships. Hannah then reported her assaults to law enforcement, resulting in charges finally being filed. A bond was set ordering no contact between Hannah and her father.
This 19-year-old woman has endured more pain and suffering than
most women twice her age ever will, but this survivor is determined not to allow her past to define her future. With her tenacity to find the help she needed and with the assistance of Heartland Family Service, Now Hannah Can.
* To protect our client’s rights, the client has been de-identified in this story. The photo is not a picture of our client.