A Secret Weapon In Fighting Domestic Violence

If we are serious about ending the scourge of domestic violence in this country, as we should be, we must use every tool at our disposal. And the numbers speak for themselves: it’s hard to find a more effective tool than civil legal aid.


Lonnie A. Powers
WGBH News (MA)
October 8, 2015

Tags: Domestic Violence

Organizations mentioned/involved: Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC)


Research shows that the availability of legal aid for survivors significantly lowers rates of domestic violence and reduces spending on state-funded support services related to intimate partner violence. As we see more partnerships among public and private sector leaders to end intimate partner violence ― such as the recent initiative backed by Attorney General Maura Healey and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft ― we need to include access to civil legal aid in the discussion.


In a study of these data published in Contemporary Economic Policy in 2003, the researchers concluded that access to protective orders from courts; legal assistance with child custody and support; divorce and property distribution; and domestic violence-related legal disputes around immigration, housing, and public benefits help survivors over the long-term, because these services provide them with “real, long-term alternatives to their relationships.”