KATIE KING | October 14, 2017
AVLF’s Family Law Program works to eradicate barriers that might send a domestic violence survivor back to her abuser.
There’s a haunting statistic in domestic violence, and it’s one you might not have heard before: on average, a survivor leaves her abuser seven times before she leaves for good. That means victims return to a violent relationship six times.
There are a number of reasons why survivors stay: financial abuse or instability, fear of losing children in a custody dispute, and even basic childcare needs. In an effort to break this cycle, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation created our Family Law Program in early 2016.
“Even in a best-case scenario, a protective order is only twelve months,” said Nilufar Abdi-Tabari, the staff attorney who runs the Family Law Program. “Our clients need permanent remedies to provide safety and stability that the protective order temporarily creates.”
“A large part of domestic violence work is just making sure clients are heard and seen–that they realize there is attention being paid to what they are going through. They are not just a number or a statistic or a phone call or an intake.”
When clients first come to the Safe Families Office, receiving a protective order to provide immediate safety and protection from an abuser is always the first priority. But over the last year-and-a-half, Abdi-Tabari met with 165 clients to see what further support AVLF can provide. These meetings worked to make sure they are safe from violence permanently. While many were assisted with advice alone, 31 survivors received full representation from an attorney.
Each family law case is different, depending on what a client is specifically dealing with. But the beauty of the Family Law Program is it enables AVLF’s staff and volunteers to be responsive to a variety of needs: divorces, custody disputes, and child support, to name only a few.
And whether or not clients receive an attorney for their case, the program works to connect with survivors on a long-term basis to ensure all of their needs are met.
“A large part of domestic violence work is just making sure clients are heard and seen–that they realize there is attention being paid to what they are going through. They are not just a number or a statistic or a phone call or an intake,” Abdi-Tabari said. “Even when we can’t extend our services, we’ve still built a relationship with them. There’s still trust, and if something changes in their lives they call us.”
Providing emotional and mental support–not just legal support–is part of AVLF’s mission to bring holistic services to our clients.
AVLF is always working to provide holistic services to our clients across all of our programs. Want to know more? See what we’ve been up to.