NEW YORK (PIX11) – Stephanie Mulcock hears stories of survivors far too often.
“Just last month, we had someone come through who was in a situation of abuse, who was being threatened, and had been recently married. She was very much afraid that her residency would be at risk if she were to leave her abusive partner,” said Mulcock, the executive director of Garra, a non-profit organization based in New York City. “She also had children, and she was very much concerned about how this would affect the children and if she would be able to retain their custody.”
Fortunately, through Garra’s work, the woman was given a protective order.
Garra incorporates several services – from legal counseling to immigration services, job training, and leadership development.
“We connect folks with city agencies and other nonprofits, so they understand they have the right not to live in a situation of abuse,” said Mulcock.
Her connection with the cause is very personal. Mulcock and her mother moved to the United States when she was 14. As an immigrant who was not fully proficient in English, she had a hard time finding resources that would help with her family situation.
“I just want to make sure that women who are survivors of abuse, whose immigration status might be at risk or who are facing fears of deportation as a result of domestic violence, that they understand there is a way out,” said Mulcock, who’s also the lawyer leading the pro bono legal counseling provided by the organization.
Garra is the Portuguese word for grit, something Ingrid Borges says she and many other clients have in common.
“I was worried about my immigration process. I had to apply to renew my residency, but due to certain circumstances I was experiencing at the time, I was overwhelmed with all the paperwork I had to fill out,” said Borges, who now is a thriving multi-disciplinary artist working in New York City. “Their work is not only important but also necessary for the community. A lot of us who come to the U.S. might not be able to speak the language, and with the immigration process, you need someone to assist you.”
The nonprofit also celebrates how far each survivor has come. Every year, nonprofit volunteers host the “Woman with Garra Awards,” a ceremony that honors women who were able to turn their life around after facing the challenges of abusive relationships and domestic violence.
“We want to make sure women are empowered to thrive on their own whenever the next obstacle comes around,” said Mulcock.
Each honoree also receives a book featuring their own stories, not only to celebrate their accomplishments but also to serve as a reminder that, with Garra and community support, each immigrant can achieve their dreams.
“It’s important for Latinx women to be able to design their own narrative,” Mulcock said.
Garra relies solely on donations and support from its volunteers. If you would like to get involved or need assistance for yourself or someone you know, head over to garrabr.org.
Additional domestic violence resources in the tri-state area are available. Click here for more information.