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The Tahirih Justice Center is the only national organization that provides free legal and social services as well as policy advocacy for immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence. As part of our direct services, providing social services to our clients helps to stabilize their day-to-day lives and promote their safety and well-being as they pursue justice in the legal system. During this time, it is often that clients need access to food and emergency shelters or housing, as well as mental health, emotional support, and assistance with safety planning. Tahirih’s social services team works from a client-centered, strengths-based perspective with the ultimate goal of empowering clients to make life-fulfilling decisions that will help them to achieve stable, violence-free futures for themselves and their families. This hard working and dedicated social services team includes the work of Tahirih Greater DC Social Services Program Manager, Adriana López.

Adriana has been working on migration issues at a national and international level since 2011. After pursuing a Master of Science in Gender and International Development at the London School of Economics, where she conducted research about gender-based violence in Southern Mexico, Adriana wanted to work for an organization that directly addressed migration through a gendered lens. Upon learning about Tahirih, she realized her interests and expertise aligned perfectly with its mission. When the opportunity presented itself, she was beyond excited to join the Tahirih family!

In her current role that she started nearly two years ago, Adriana oversees the social services program in Tahirih’s Greater DC office. She helps to ensure all social services staff are best prepared to work with immigrant survivors of violence, connect them to psychosocial services, and help them reach safety and stability so that they can begin to heal from the trauma they have experienced in order to ultimately thrive in their communities.

“I am inspired every day by our clients who, despite all that they have had to overcome, are incredibly resilient. I am also inspired by my colleagues at Tahirih who advocate for our clients with such tenacity to ensure survivors have access to justice and the support they need to heal from the trauma they have experienced.”

Seeking justice and safety in the wake of violence is a multi-layered, multi-faceted process that includes navigating a complex legal system while also working through immense trauma and fear. There are innumerable steps, and often defeats, before individuals are able to access justice and live without fear.

“The most challenging part about my job is realizing that when clients escape abuse, it is only one step closer towards justice. As advocates, we must ensure that there are systems in place in our society that advance economic justice, prioritize access to quality mental health and medical care, affordable housing, and education opportunities. Without guaranteeing access to these basic human rights, our clients will remain vulnerable to continued abuse.”

But with this in mind, Adriana knows that Tahirih’s work is advancing the rights and opportunities of women and girls in the communities we serve – communities across the nation and across the world. Tahirih is elevating the voices of women who have been shut out and silenced, based only on their gender.

“By working with immigrant women and girls who are survivors of gender-based violence, Tahirih is centering those who are typically at the margins of society. It is only when we center the voices and needs of those most marginalized that we can actually being to advance equity and justice for all.”