Women reach out to me regularly. What is the number one reason women reach out to me? Family Court issues. Primarily, custody challenges.
There is a lack of legal assistance available to survivors of domestic abuse that are attempting to save their children from the abusive parent. Often, when survivors are referred to non-profits or pro-bono legal services, they run into the following barriers:
- Workers/lawyers that are overworked and cannot take on any additional survivors to assist.
- In the case of Officer Involved Domestic Violence survivors, the cases are so extensive that workers cannot devote resources.
- Also, in the case of Officer Involved Domestic Violence survivors, there are workers that do not want to get involved with challenging a law enforcement officer. There is a fear of retaliation.
- Some service providers that are offering pro-bono legal assistance do not understand the complexities of domestic violence and do more harm to the survivor and children.
- It is not unusual for case workers within family law and child protection services to discount survivors when the abusive spouse is a law enforcement officer. There are some people that refuse to believe a cop can commit such heinous acts of cruelty.
- Many women end up representing themselves in court, pro se, and this is not always ideal.
- Unless a lawyer understands domestic violence and has received specialized training, they may not represent their client in a fair manner.
- Money. Money rules. Family court is a business. If a survivor has limited resources and her abuser has access to more money, it creates a power imbalance. The spouse will be able to afford a “better” lawyer, expert testimony, etc…
The system tends to re-traumatize women and children. I do not promote myself as knowing everything about VAWA funding, but it would be ideal if a large amount could be dispensed to organizations devoted to providing legal assistance to correct the power imbalance.