Beverly is a young mother and a survivor of dating violence. She came to LACLJ through our Teen/LA program when she was 18 with her infant child. The father of her child had inflicted physical and mental abuse on her during their relationship and continued to threaten her after they broke up. Beverly feared for her and her child’s safety because of the batterer’s controlling behavior, so she sought a permanent restraining order.

LACLJ represented her, but the court denied the order, stating that too much time had passed since the last incident of physical abuse and overlooking the impact of mental abuse.

LACLJ believed the court wrongfully denied Beverly a restraining order and garnered support from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Family Violence Appellate Project to file an appeal. On the day of oral arguments, the Court of Appeal agreed that the trial court had made a legal error and ordered the court to issue the restraining order.

Rodriguez v. Menjivar legal team pictured from left to right: Kat Ryzewska (Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP), Nancy Lemon (Family Violence Appellate Project), Michael Holecek (Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP), and LACLJ attorneys Arianne Wang, Carmen McDonald and Sarah Reisman.

The Court of Appeal’s decision not only validated Beverly’s experience as a survivor, but also gave her the peace of mind to move forward and build a safer life for her and her daughter. For other survivors seeking protection through the court, the published opinion clarifies that mental and emotional abuse are not only clearly defined in the Domestic Violence Protection Act, but also often have the most lasting, traumatic impact.