Domestic violence victims should get free attorneys

A case for providing a lawyer to victims of domestic violence.


Denise Grab
Dallas Morning News
July 23, 2015
Full story

Tags: Domestic Violence


Giving accused batterers free legal representation it is hardly controversial — our justice system prioritizes a fair defense for the accused. But what if we took the additional step of subsidizing legal services for domestic violence survivors?

For survivors, having an attorney can increase the likelihood of obtaining a civil restraining order from 32 percent to 86 percent. Restraining orders, in turn, can reduce the occurrence of violence and help survivors feel safer and more empowered in their relationships and lives. Attorneys can also assist with other legal issues, such as child custody, divorce, housing, and government benefits, which may be holding survivors back from leaving an abusive relationship.

However, domestic violence survivors are frequently not in a position to hire their own attorneys. Victims in low-income households experience five times the rate of domestic abuse of victims in higher-income households.