Paula Lucas, a previous R.O.S.E. Award Recipient, recently spoke in Boston to share the story of her journey to success and happiness.  Now, we would like to share her story with our friends and family.

866uswomen.org

Paula Lucas attended school in California. Shortly thereafter, she fell in love with and married a Pakistani refugee who was working as a photographic journalist.  After a few years, the couple moved to the United Arab Emirates, when Paula’s husband gained United States citizenship.  Together, they had three sons and founded their own advertising agency.

To the objective eye, Paula and her husband seemed to be living the dream: They were very successful, traveled in private planes, owned a beautiful home and enjoyed expensive meals out.  However, in reality, Paula had little, if any control over her life and home.

In the United Arab Emirates, men have long been the highest-respected citizens and direct the household. Paula’s rights were in the hands of her husband: She did not have access to her own passport or those of her children, nor did she ever experience what American women would consider “common freedom.”  Almost inevitably, Paula’s husband became abusive, not only toward her, but also their oldest son and Indonesian housekeeper.

Paula’s husband traveled a great amount for work.  At one point, he was detained in Germany after being robbed of his passport and money, granting Paula an opportunity to escape.  After she found all the passports that had been missing, she woke her children very late one night under the guise that they were going camping. With one suitcase and three children in tow, she boarded a plane for New York, followed by another bound for Oregon, where he sister lived.

Paula arrived in Oregon in 1999, after which she experienced many years filled with battles over divorce processes, child support and stalking.  Eventually, the divorce was finalized and Paula won custody of her three children, but was not granted child support.

In December of 1999, Paula launched the Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center, along with an accompanying Web site and hotline: http://www.866uswomen.org. She founded the organization with the mission to provide a resource for domestic violence victims living abroad to find advice, services and general assistance.  Until 2003, Paula operated the company out of her living room.

That year, Paula received the R.O,S.E. Fund’s esteemed R.O.S.E. Award after she was nominated by her sister.   Prior to the occasion, she had not applied for any awards or grants, nor did she engage in a great deal of public speaking.  However, the R.O.S.E. Award not only allowed her to move the Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center into an established office, but also helped the organization earn significantly more recognition.

Since then, the Crisis Center has grown exponentially, thanks largely in part to the award, word-of-mouth marketing and the help of an investor from Switzerland.  Today, the organization has a staff of five and the right to provide legal and counseling services, as well as a 24/7 hotline.  Additionally, the Crisis Center has formed a partnership with Virgin Atlantic Airlines to provide free flights to women with family and household emergencies similar to Paula’s.

Paula has attributed her company’s success to the R.O.S.E. Fund, crediting it as “the help I needed.”  She recently launched a worldwide awareness campaign on behalf of the hotline, for which she has been traveling globally and meeting with organizations, embassies and others who can inform the world of the services provided by the Crisis Center.

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