February 5, 2016
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Tags: Domestic Violence
Organizations mentioned/involved: Voices for Civil Justice
Here’s another horrifying truth: Even though we know that legal help is crucial for survivors to escape dangerous partners, gain independence, and rebuild their lives, you’re more likely to get a lawyer if you’re the abuser than if you’re the survivor of abuse. In the U.S., abusers have the right to a lawyer to defend against criminal prosecution, while survivors are often on their own to secure a protective order from an abuser or full custody of their children—matters handled in civil court. That’s because, in civil cases, there is no constitutional right to an attorney if you can’t afford one.
If we’re serious about fighting our domestic violence crisis, one solution is clear: We must invest in civil legal aid organizations to give all survivors the legal help they need to end the vicious cycle of abuse. Research shows that providing legal assistance to survivors dramatically reduces domestic violence—by as much as 21 percent, according to one study.