Meet Humaira, one of the brilliant people behind Newhouse. Humaira has devoted her career to helping survivors navigate the legal system from filing for divorce to child custody and support. She joined Newhouse as Attorney for Domestic Violence Survivors in May 2021. “At the end of the day, I want to show up for survivors in order to alleviate any of their stress and to give them some peace of mind.”
As someone with a gravitation towards public service work, Humaira knew that by studying law she might one day be able to stand in the gap for someone.
“It’s something I was capable of doing … I am able to handle stress and trauma,” she says, “I have support from my husband, children, family, and faith.”
Humaira discovered her passion for domestic violence victims as she was completing her law degree. She remembers one of her professors speaking on how they were a survivor and had offered training to the students on how to legally represent domestic violence victims. Later, when they were doing the clinical law calls, she asked her professor to set her up with any clients she knew that were victims in need of representation, which led her to Newhouse.
Humaira started volunteering her services regularly in 2010 as a legal aid of Western Aid Missouri, volunteering at the Hotline for Safehome, as well as pro bono work for Children’s Center. In 2014 Humaira officially started her practice helping victims of abuse, and soon after started her nonprofit Breathe Hope. Unfortunately, as a small nonprofit, 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on Humaira’s organization. Despite difficulty in fundraising Humaira and her organization were able help pay for a few survivors hotel stay and cover some monthly bills for other survivors.
In early March 2021, one of Humaira’s former colleagues reached out to inquire if she would be interested in a staff attorney position at Newhouse. Humaira had been waiting for an opportunity like this. Humaira connected with Courtney Thomas, President/CEO. Courtney’s vision for Newhouse and Humaira’s legal expertise were an ideal match.
Humaira has taken her role as legal help to a whole new level. As the Attorney for Domestic Violence Survivors, she stands in the gap for the victims in and out of the courtroom.
“I want Newhouse to become the shelter it can become.”
Humaira has been working on streamlining and organizing the process of first, educating the survivors and then moving them from victims to survivors. Even if they aren’t looking for legal representation, Humaira points the survivors toward the right sources and lets them know their options.
Humaira has also been working to gather legal partnerships in order to widen the volunteer base at Newhouse. In the event of a larger influx of victims, Humaira rejects the notion of ever turning away a victim in need of legal help.
After over 10 years in the domestic violence space, Humaira has a great insight into the journey of a victim. Her hope is to provide domestic violence training to all staff members at Newhouse so that they understand the best ways to empathize and communicate with the victims in their care.
Importance of Legal Services for Survivors
Even though the judges are briefly educated about domestic violence, it’s on the victim to gather evidence and information in order to prosecute. The legal system can be stressful, not to mention the trauma and stress a victim is already walking through. This stress can cause certain side effects like loss of memory or feeling scattered that could really hurt their case. Humaira comes alongside them and leads them through the sometimes confusing legal system.
“Having an attorney present in the court helps victims deal with having to see their abuser in the courtroom,” Humaira says. “They feel as though they have protection and know their abuser has to go through their lawyer with questions, which then puts them at ease. Besides that, the victims need help filing for divorce, custody of children and child support and I help alleviate any stress that might surround those things.”
Favorite Part About Working for Newhouse
Humaira’s favorite part about Newhouse are the people. She loves how dedicated everyone is to helping domestic violence victims. She also has really loved getting to work with Courtney who brings a fresh passion into her work. Seeing all the changes and improvements coming to Newhouse gets Humaira excited for the future of the organization.
Outside Of Work, What Brings You Joy?
Outside of work Humaira’s joy comes from spending time with her family. She loves to go on picnics with her husband and children, as well as family game nights where they like to play scrabble, uno or relax to a movie.
Describe Newhouse In One Word
Humaira would use the word “empowerment” because she says, “[Newhouse] is a source of empowerment for victims which leads them towards a path of becoming survivors.”
Humaira also loves to spend time in the kitchen cooking with her family. Some of her favorite meals to prepare are the Pakistani dishes biryani and nihari.
Thank you, Humaira, for your dedication to survivors at Newhouse. We are grateful to have your talents on our team! To meet more of Team Newhouse, take a look at our staff spotlights.