MEET DANIEL

As Pride Month 2021 comes to a close, we’d like to introduce
you to Daniel, who moved here from Mexico with
his family when he was small.

Ontoniel.jpeg

Raised by devout parents, Daniel describes himself as a good kid who struggled for years with his sexual orientation. After turning 18 and graduating from high school, he decided to move out and build a life for himself, working two jobs to make ends meet. Daniel started dating, and eventually found himself in a relationship. He and his partner dated for about a year, then decided to get married in February 2019. 

 

Daniel says the relationship took a dangerous turn when his husband “fell down the rabbit hole of drugs.” He regularly abused Daniel both physically and verbally, although he was always careful to not leave marks and/or bruises where they were easily visible to others. Daniel and his husband’s friends tried numerous interventions, but his husband would relapse, and the abuse would become more frequent and increasingly violent. After his final relapse, Daniel said his husband flew into a rage and stormed around their apartment looking for a hammer “so that he could do away with me.” Daniel fled barefoot from the apartment and ran into the cold, looking for anyone who could help, as his husband chased him. He ran into a train stop, where a station worker hid him in the information kiosk and called the police. Daniel credits her with saving his life. The police took him back to his apartment and when his husband returned, Daniel says his husband blamed everything on him, “He was brutal,” and very skilled at manipulation and making Daniel feel guilty for being the “reason” he used drugs.  

 

Even after getting an order of protection against him, Daniel’s husband continued to harass him. He knew Daniel was undocumented, so he would contact Daniel’s employers on their social media accounts detailing Daniel’s position in the company, location, and “he’s an illegal alien.” Daniel’s employers were sympathetic and knew he was a valued employee, so they reassured him they would not take action against him. Unsure of where to turn next, Daniel reached out to his doctor for help. Recognizing he wasn’t in a good place mentally or physically, she mentioned the possibility of getting divorced, and started making some calls on his behalf, which led him to PBN and volunteers Andrew and Patrick in February 2020. 

"With every communication and interaction, they asked ‘How are you doing? Do you feel safe?’...Patrick and Andrew are beautiful people.”
~Daniel, Divorce Client

This was the first divorce case that Patrick and Andrew handled, and Patrick noted a couple of variables that complicated and lengthened the case. There was a history of abuse and drug use on the part of the husband and an expiring order of protection to address. The pandemic made connecting to discuss these issues very difficult. Daniel appreciated Patrick and Andrew’s openness, patience, and persistence and was floored by their genuine and constant concern for his safety and well-being, noting “With every communication and interaction, they asked ‘How are you doing? Do you feel safe?’” He concluded by saying, “They are beautiful people.”

 

Both Patrick and Andrew appreciate the opportunity to give back to clients like Daniel as well and the ability to move on and live their best lives. Patrick notes, “It has given me a sense of perspective. Prior to my work with PBN, I had never been exposed to many of the issues that a large portion of our society faces every day.” First-time volunteer Andrew added, “Volunteering with PBN has helped me feel like I am giving back to society while also learning new skills and areas of the law.” 

 

Divorce and orders of protection continue to be two highly active projects for PBN. If you would like to become involved and help people like Daniel, email sheila.pont@pro-bono-network.org.

NEED AN ATTORNEY?

We are unable to respond to individual requests for legal assistance. There are many agencies who can help you find the resources you need.

Coordinated Advice & Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS)

CARPLS is a legal resource triage system for Cook County. Their hotline is staffed by attorneys who can assist you or direct you to another agency that best suits your needs. 

 

(312) 738-9200

www.carpls.org

Illinois Legal Aid Online

This statewide site offers you information about your legal rights and responsibilities, referrals to free and low cost legal aid offices, and forms and instructions for representing yourself.

www.illinoislegalaidonline.org

CONTACT US

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(708) 665-3359
Pro Bono Network
P.O. Box 469
Oak Park, IL 60303

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