About Apna Ghar
Apna Ghar, Inc. (Our Home) provides holistic services to women and children across immigrant communities in the Chicago area to end the cycle of domestic violence. Founded as an emergency hotline in 1990 by five Asian American women who recognized that linguistic and cultural barriers were preventing South Asian and other immigrant victims of family violence from seeking help. Our services now include a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, transitional housing, individual and group counseling, case management, legal advocacy, a child visitation and safe exchange program as well as education and outreach.
“Apna Ghar was with me, when I had no one. You offered me genuine warmth, comfort and the services I needed. Thank you!”
- Domestic Violence Survivor, March 2014
“Apna Ghar is a ray of light in an otherwise dark world."
- Domestic Violence Survivor, December 2013
Having overcome domestic violence in India, Arti* was already a survivor when she met Vinay*, a US citizen on vacation in India. To Arti, who was shunned by her community after her divorce, Vinay seemed kind and open minded. She was amazed when Vinay told her he knew many divorced couples in the United States.
After a brief courtship, Arti and Vinay got married. With high hopes and the promise of a better life, Arti immigrated to the United States. However, her dreams soon became a nightmare when Vinay and his mother began verbally and emotionally abusing her. Physical assault and sexual abuse soon followed. It was clear that Vinay was not anything like the man she met in India.
Fortunately, unlike many others, Arti was not alone. She had friends who refused to turn a blind eye. Instead, they offered help and referred her to Apna Ghar (Our Home). With her friends' support, Arti called our hotline and connected with a legal advocate who helped her understand her rights in the United States. Arti did not realize that as a conditional resident facing domestic violence, she could file for her own immigration status (I-751 waiver of conditional residency based on abuse or divorce). She also did not know she had the right to call the police and get an order of protection under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act.
Though the prospect of divorce was daunting, Arti knew that she could not live with another violent person. In a courageous step, Arti decided to leave her abusive home and move to Apna Ghar. At our emergency shelter, Arti found a safe, nurturing community of women. After four months at the shelter, Arti moved to our rent-free transitional housing, where she had the space and time to improve her English, take classes, find a job, and save money. Recognizing her fragile, emotional state, Arti's legal advocate also suggested that she see one of our counselors to help her cope with the trauma. In addition, through Apna Ghar's partnerships with the legal community, Arti received pro bono services for her divorce and immigration cases. She is now eligible for US citizenship, and Apna Ghar's advocates have found a pro bono attorney to help her. With the support she received at Apna Ghar, Arti began reclaiming her independence and self-confidence.
Arti recently completed her stay at one of Apna Ghar's transitional housing apartments and finished a nursing course. She now lives independently, and she supports herself financially working as a certified nurse assistant with the hope of becoming a registered nurse soon. Arti has overcome tremendous linguistic, cultural, and legal barriers to reclaim, renew, and rebuild her life.
*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect client confidentiality.