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Why legal support is essential for domestic violence survivors

When it comes to domestic violence, getting legal assistance can be the difference between life and death. Survivors of such violence turn to the courts for protective orders, child custody, and divorce when they are ready to leave a relationship. 

Having an attorney in their corner makes that all the more likely they will get a favorable court outcome. Unfortunately, legal assistance can be expensive and hard to come by, especially when recovering from an abusive situation.  

That’s what makes nonprofits like Inland Counties Legal Services are so important. We provide free legal services to help survivors through every step of the way. But our team can only do so much, and pro bono volunteers can help fill in the gaps. 

Last month, ICLS Family Law Practice Group Director Cara Whisler presented on the importance of pro bono volunteers in domestic violence cases, alongside Stephanie Davidson, Survivor and Family Justice Workgroup Managing Attorney at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Hope Talieh, Legal Advocacy Program Manager at Human Options. The webinar was hosted by The United States District Court for the Central District of California and Hon. Sunshine Sykes. 

Recognizing the importance of providing holistic services to survivors of domestic violence, the webinar presented creative solutions to help bridge the gap of available services to survivors, particularly since it is estimated that over 30% of people in California will experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetime and hundreds of thousands of people (or more) in California experience domestic violence each year.

“Legal assistance in DV survivors’ cases results in a meaningful and lasting impact. Research shows that legal assistance of any kind has been demonstrated to improve court outcomes. When a court’s rulings are more favorable for survivors of domestic violence, the tangible benefits gained, such as increased physical and economic security, can be life changing,” ICLS Family Law Practice Group Director Cara Whisler said.