Fear or Freedom? | Veritus Group

Julie and Jeffrey got married in 2006 and share two young children. Jeffrey had always been abusive throughout their marriage. He would physically hit and choke her, bully his two children, and had several affairs with male partners. In addition to his violent behavior, he was an alcoholic and once under the influence, his abuse worsened. Because of his constant intoxication, he also failed to care for the children while Julie worked.  

At the same time, Jeffrey used Julie’s personal information and took out several loans in her name to buy a new truck which ended up getting both of them into severe debt and credit trouble. Due to his alcoholism, inability to hold a job, and financial trouble, the house they owned was foreclosed and Julie and her children were forced to move in with her mother.   

In May 2019, Julie decided to leave Jeffrey and file for divorce. She could see the abuse was affecting her children’s lives. “I decided to leave because I didn’t want my children to feel worse. My eldest son was becoming depressed from all of the abuse. His school counselor told me he was suicidal and that is when I knew I needed to leave my husband,” Julie said.  

Jeffrey was furious when Julie decided to leave their marriage. First, he tried shooting Julie in the head, when he couldn’t, he threatened to burn her mother’s house down and kill everyone inside.  

 When she left and moved in with her mother, Jeffrey ended up not sending money like he promised and never tried to contact the children. Concerned for her family’s safety, Julie stayed away from Jeffrey. Still, he tried to see her. He told Julie that he was leaving the state and wanted to see the children one last time before he left. Julie knew he already moved in with his uncle locally.  

Julie did not agree to see him and had made up her mind that she wanted a divorce from her abuser. Soon, he began contacting Julie and the children constantly, speaking belligerently and attacking them emotionally. He would threaten to kill himself and tell his children he was going to burn down their home with them inside.  

Julie sought assistance from LSLA’s Richmond branch office and her case was assigned to Attorney Cheranda Robertson and Paralegal Nicola Ostlund. Robertson and Ostlund helped Julie with a divorce and a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR), which asks the judge to create a custody and visitation order.   

Julie was able to leave after she had enough and has advice for other victims of domestic abuse. “Speak up about what you are going through. I was so scared other people were going to find out about my situation and shame me. I kept silent but I shouldn’t have. Let people know what you are going through otherwise you are just hurting yourself,” Julie said.  

LSLA filed for divorce in Fort Bend County. We helped her obtain a default divorce with a just and right division of the community property and debts as well as Sole Managing Conservatorship and a very restricted visitation plan to help keep her and the children safe. 

Julie is very pleased with the work done at Lone Star Legal Aid. “My attorney Ms. Robertson and Paralegal Ms. Nicola were awesome. They helped me resolve all of my issues.” 

Robertson is passionate about her work advocating on behalf of survivors which motivates her to continue doing rewarding work like this in the future.  

“Positive outcomes like these give Nicola and I the momentum and inspiration to continue serving crime victims to the best of our ability and trying to make a difference wherever we can,” Robertson said.  

*Names were changed to protect the identity of the individual(s).