For families affected by domestic violence, the challenges of the family law process – which can be overwhelming even in the average case – can seem insurmountable.
Before the legal process even begins, a domestic violence victim leaving an abusive situation is often dealing with being afraid for his or her safety, being afraid for the safety of minor children, being at a financial disadvantage, and dealing with emotional strain related to living in and trying to leave an abusive situation.
With all of those challenging factors, beginning a legal process in addition can seem like too much, even though seeking help in court can help the victim gain protections designed to make the victim safer and stop unwanted contact from the abuser.
Community resources cannot solve these problems completely, but many people are working to help survivors connect with the resources available. A variety of community organizations have staff working to support survivors in different ways, including helping survivors connect with counselors, financial resources, and available legal help.
Oftentimes the people who work directly with survivors are called domestic violence advocates, and there are two types of advocates who commonly work with people reaching out over concern for their safety because of abuse from family members or dating partners. Community advocates at domestic violence organizations can help survivors connect with community resources, such as safe housing, financial assistance programs, support groups, and other resources. Courthouse advocates can help survivors through the process of seeking protections in a civil court case. If you are concerned about safety as a result of abuse at home or in a significant relationship, consider reaching out to an advocate to find out about the support available.
If you are considering seeking help but are not sure you want to connect with a person one-on-one at this point, consider looking at the available resources online if you can safely do so (this helpful page from LifeWire addresses safety with computers, email, and phones). One relatively new resource is a toolkit put together by the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Here is a link to the Table of Contents for the toolkit, which includes links to information on topics ranging from coping strategies to legal, financial, and immigration resources. Other court-related resources include the domestic violence resources page found on the website for King County Superior Court, and webpage for the King County Protection Order Advocacy Program. For support from community organizations that are not as focused on legal issues, consider organizations such as DAWN and the YWCA.