Mr. A was bound to a wheelchair with a physical disability and suffered from severe diabetes. Having to depend completely upon someone else to care for him, he fell victim to abuse and was taken advantage of physically, emotionally, and financially. The abuse led to severe mental health concerns leading him into the hands of legal aid.
Mr. A found out that people were taking advantage of his disability by using his apartment like a hotel by breaking in, taking advantage of his air conditioning and other utilities, running up the bill in which he could not afford. They knew Mr. A was a vulnerable person who couldn’t defend himself. Someone also got a hold of his social security number and started rerouting all Mr. A’s employment checks to another bank account, completely stealing his identity. In addition to people breaking into his home, using his utilities, and stealing his personal information, the utility company was threatening to shut off all utilities in his apartment unit if he did not pay. He informed the utility company that he was out of money because his identity was stolen. They told him that he needed to seek legal help.
Mr. A contacted Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA) for assistance with the threat of losing electricity, gas, water, and shelter, knowing it was not his fault and didn’t deserve to suffer. Mr. A felt helpless and was therefore angry and frustrated. Mr. A had a caretaker and a psychologist who was always on call, but he didn’t notify them when he started to feel suicidal. He feared he would be sent away if he confessed his alarming thoughts.
While LSLA was working on his case, he expressed his mental struggles to his attorney. His attorney reached out to one of the LSLA social workers, Gina Mayfield. Mayfield supported Mr. A and all his psychological needs. She followed the protocol and started assisting him immediately by asking him if he had a plan to hurt himself and if he had a plan for responding to his emotions. She proceeded to ask him if he had a support system of friends or family and if he had access to the suicide prevention hotline. She provided information on coping mechanisms he could use when feeling down.
“I could tell he was in a tough place. He was so overwhelmed. He looked at everything he was going through in one big package. I taught him to break it all down into priorities to put him in a better headspace,” Mayfield said.
His attorney did submit documents proving his disability and that they were legally restricted from turning off his utilities which improved his situation and psychological state. When Mayfield followed up with Mr. A, she could tell his mental health had dramatically improved.
LSLA’s Crime Victim Unit social workers, like Mayfield, assist survivors of crime who need additional help mentally and emotionally.
“It is a calling to be in this field. I get a lot out of it. I get to help people during trying times when they thought there was no hope, and that is where I get my joy from,” Mayfield said.
*Names were changed to protect the identity of the individual(s).