20 year old Vanessa met Leon (not their real names) when she was 15 and went to live with him despite her mother's objections. Two years later she became pregnant with their child (a daughter). The relationship was very abusive but Vanessa kept the abuse a secret from her family. After five years of sustained verbal, physical and sexual abuse, Vanessa told Leon that she no longer wanted to be with him. He refused to accept her decision and continued to torment her as she tried to move on with her life. He forced himself into Vanessa’s family home, assaulted her father, robbed the family and abducted Vanessa at gunpoint. He eventually let her go and was arrested and charged by the police. But Vanessa did not pursue the matter and the case was dropped.

Months later, Leon abducted Vanessa again and raped her. With the assistance of her mother, Vanessa reported the matter to the police and her mother brought her to Help & Shelter for counselling and support. She was referred to the Guyana Legal Aid Clinic to apply for a protection order. A few days later, Leon again broke into her family home and threatened her and her family with a gun. The next day, Vanessa and her daughter went to the shelter, having decided that it would be best for them to stay at there until Leon was caught and brought before the courts.

With the help of Help & Shelter’s court support counsellor and the counsellor advocate, and the legal aid clinic, Vanessa was granted a protection order. Help & Shelter made sure that Leon was served with the order application and the final order by working with the police when they could not locate him. Repeated calls were also made to the DPP’s Chambers, the police station and the police commander to ensure that Leon was arrested and charged with rape. Leon was finally arrested, charged and put before the court, where the magistrate ordered that he be remanded pending trial. Vanessa felt safe enough to leave the shelter and returned to her family. She is currently awaiting the next court date. Help & Shelter will continue its support of Vanessa.