Domestic violence includes the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault or other abusive behavior typically between individuals in an intimate or familial relationship. As a result of domestic violence, survivors are often isolated from family and community supports, lack economic resources, and struggle to maintain housing or employment. Furthermore, survivors experience mental health consequences, including PTSD, depression and substance abuse. Because batterers utilize power and control to manipulate survivors and their children, many survivors’ relationships with their children are also threatened or harmed. Through the law, LACLJ strives to help survivors disentangle their lives from their abusers and reestablish stability and security.
Sexual assault is any unconsented sexual contact, including rape, forcible sodomy, child molestation, and fondling. Nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual assault. These assaults affect all parts of a survivor’s life, including their financial stability, education, housing, employment, immigration status, and family. Further, many survivors struggle with long-term mental health issues that can lead to quitting their jobs, dropping out of school, and disconnecting from vital support systems. By accessing survivors’ legal rights, LACLJ attorneys help empower survivors to use the law to move beyond the devastating consequences of their assault.
Promoting Safety and Stability
LACLJ attorneys are valuable advocates for survivors as they seek to re-establish their long-term stability, safety and autonomy. Attorneys primarily provide clients legal assistance and representation in the following areas:
- Restraining Orders: Survivors who have been physically or sexually abused, threatened, stalked or harassed are entitled to orders that restrict abusers’ conduct and proximity to the survivor.
- Custody: Survivors who have minor children with their abuser may need a safe and stable court order that determines who the child will live with on a day-to-day basis, visitation schedules, and who has the right to make decisions about the child.
- Divorce: Survivors who are married to their abuser may pursue a legal proceeding to dissolve their marriage.
- Paternity: Survivors who have minor children with their abusers and are not married may need a court determination to establish the parental relationship.
LACLJ also strives to holistically assess and identify the range of legal issues that can arise from domestic violence or sexual assault. Depending on the need, LACLJ will either provide representation or refer clients to LACLJ partners to meet survivors’ diverse needs.
- Civil Advocacy: LACLJ can provide advocacy in housing, education and employment. This can include helping survivors keep their home, change schools or take time off of work.
- Criminal Justice Advocacy: In cases where the abuser is prosecuted, survivors have the right to keep their medical, counseling and education records private and to certain information and documents pertaining to the criminal case.
Overall, LACLJ helps survivors establish clear and safe boundaries with their abusers and stabilize relationships with their children. Most importantly, attorneys provide a confidential relationship within which survivors can learn about their rights and make informed and empowered choices that best serve the interests of themselves and their families.