Domestic violence victim faces housing challenge after emergency help

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — She's escaped the clutches of her daughter's abusive father, but a Memphis woman who asked not to be identified, said she can't escape the constant fear.

"It's so scary. I can't even ride down the street to take my kids to school in fear that he's following me," she said.

She tells a story of harassing phone calls and an unwelcome visit to her job. A 2017 affidavit details a violent attack at home.

Several weeks ago, she turned to the Family Safety Center, who she said placed her in a temporary apartment.

"They told me you have 30 days to be here," she said.

But 30 days turned into two weeks, she said, with a text message last Friday.

"Thinking I'm having two weeks left, Friday morning at 12 o'clock I received a text. I have to be off the premises by 3 o'clock for another family to come in," she said.

In an email, a spokesperson for the Family Safety Center said they couldn't comment on individual cases out of safety concerns, but said another family may have have been waiting in the wings for her apartment. "It is a tragic problem and the list keeps growing."

The Safety Center stressed that all of its housing is temporary and that it looks to find its clients permanent housing through a partner agency.

The woman WREG spoke with said the Safety Center offered to put her in a shelter but said she would have to be there within three hours and wouldn't be able to take any of her possessions.

"Just the clothes on my back, basically," she said.

Instead, she opted to stay with a relative but is worried the harassment will continue since her abuser knows where her family lives.

"You're supposed to be protecting women like us, you know, giving us a safe place, but then you're just putting us out without notice," she said.

Conchita Topinka-Ruiz, a spokeswoman for the Family Safety Center, responded, saying that that the group's top priority is getting women out of immediate danger.

"Our main priority is to help victims get out of immediate danger and place them in temporary housing," she said. "We work with many partners in the community that provide other housing when space becomes available."