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When a survivor of domestic violence is ready to leave their abuser, press charges, get an order of protection, file for divorce or secure sole custody of her children, a lawyer can often be a useful person to have at your disposal. Unfortunately, it’s not always a realistic option due to the price tag that along with this legal help. Luckily, this is why the Internet was invented—free information right at your fingertips.
To be safe, make sure that when you’re researching anything online having to do with domestic violence that you do so from a secure computer that your abuser does not have access to. This could be a public library computer or a computer at a shelter, friend’s house or place of employment. Using your smart phone or clearing your browsing history are not guarantees that an abuser won’t be able to find what you’ve searched for.
Following are a list of websites that you as a survivor, or as a friend, family member or advocate of a survivor, may find helpful as you traverse the legal system.
Legal Help for Domestic Violence
- Avvo.com offers a plethora of legal guides for domestic violence survivors. Topics include “How Do I Get Sole Custody After Domestic Violence,” and “How Do I Get a Restraining Order.”
- Womenslaw.org has a wealth of information about legal issues as they pertain to domestic violence survivors. On the page, “Choosing and Working with a Lawyer,” you can learn if you do, in fact, need to hire a lawyer for your particular case, and important questions you should ask before you hire an attorney. Under the “Preparing for Court” tab, you can search for court forms that you may need in your particular state.
- The nonprofit Safe Horizon offers free legal advice and information to those in the New York area through their Domestic Violence Law Project. Call 718-834-7430, x10, for more information. As well the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence offers a legal advocacy hotline at 1-800-782-6400; check this list of state coalitions to explore whether your state's coalition offers a similar service.
- Victims of Crime Resource Center allows you to search for legal resources by zip code. Under the “Victims Rights” tab, find information about laws, restraining orders, appeals and more. Plus, they offer a toll-free number (800-VICTIMS) and a live chat for additional help.
Looking for someone to speak with? Enter your location to find phone numbers for domestic violence experts in your area.
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