The “Village” of Survivor Support

JAMIE PEREZ | February 4, 2019

Like many things in life, it takes a “village” to accomplish our goals. The same holds true in supporting a survivor of intimate partner abuse through the process of leaving their abuser.

In most cases, no one organization has all of the training, skills, funding, and other resources to support survivors in the multitude of individualized ways they each need support. Collaborative relationships with organizations that share our mission and vision allow us to help survivors obtain safety and independence from abuse, beyond a temporary protective order.

For example, AVLF prides itself on providing a safe, open, welcoming space, in the form of The Safe Families Office, in the Fulton County Courthouse where survivors can obtain friendly assistance in filing for temporary protective orders (TPO) and other TPO-related claims, as well as providing legal representation in their evidentiary hearings, social worker support for their financial, job-related, transportation, and other needs, and family law legal representation for their related divorce, custody, contempt, and child support claims. But the Safe Families Office exists as a result of the support and partnership of the Fulton County Superior and State Courts who generously provide space within the courthouse, along with technical assistance, and Partnership Against Domestic Violence, who partners within the office to provide safety planning, additional filing assistance, mental health services, access to shelter, legal advocacy services, and court accompaniment.

Many clients who come through the Safe Families Office are parents of young children – some have fled with just the clothes on their backs when they arrive.

Thanks to the support of Helping Mamas, our social workers are able to obtain free baby products (including diapers, formula, toys, bath supplies, and other vital items) for young children. For clothing assistance, our social workers provide vouchers to Threads, a clothing “store” where clients may come in and use their vouchers to choose clothing items they need.

We see survivors who hail from all over the world – some with limited English proficiency – who we would struggle to serve properly if it weren’t for culturally-specific pro bono advocacy organizations who provide accompaniment to court and culturally-specific support services, such as Raksha, Tapestri, Latin American Association, and Caminar Latino.

Warm handoffs free up survivors to focus on their immediate needs while the organizations take on the responsibility of making contact.

There are survivors who need additional legal assistance not provided by AVLF or outside our service area of Fulton County – such as immigration, health, and family law claims. We partner with Georgia Asylum & Immigration Network, Atlanta Legal Aid Society, and Georgia Legal Services Program through the Georgia Victim Legal Assistance Network to provide “warm handoffs” of clients to these partner organizations to assist in the ways AVLF cannot. Warm handoffs free up survivors to focus on their immediate needs while the organizations take on the responsibility of making contact.

Of course, for victims of crime with related criminal cases, we partner with victims’ advocates and prosecutors in the Fulton County District Attorney’s and Solicitor General’s Offices to ensure survivors have the support they need outside of the civil legal arena.

We also have partners who provide support when survivors are transitioning away from living with an abuser. United Way of Greater Atlanta partners with AVLF to assist survivors with moving expenses, first month’s rent, security deposits, and utilities, which provide a vital bridge to survivors as they learn to manage a one-income household.

Have questions about the Safe and Stable Families Project? Learn More.


Jamie Perez

Director, Safe and Stable Families

Check out more from this author. 

Jamie is the director of the Safe and Stable Families Project, which includes the Domestic Violence, Family Law, and Guardian ad Litem programs.

Jamie currently serves as a member of the Fulton County Family Violence Task Force. Prior to joining AVLF, Jamie practiced family law at Holland Roddenbery LLC. She is the former co-chair of the State Bar of Georgia’s Young Lawyer Division’s Family Law Committee. She obtained her JD from the University of Georgia School of Law, where she served on the Georgia Law Review. She received her BS in journalism from Ohio University. She went on to work in sports marketing for four years before attending law school.

Jamie is an active member of the Atlanta Bar Association and State Bar of Georgia and has been recognized for her contributions to the legal profession and survivors of domestic violence.