Although LawYou helps nonlawyers represent themselves in all sorts of cases, we dedicate a lot of time and space to helping survivors of domestic violence or intimate partner abuse. Here’s why.

When the Legal Consultation Ministry (LawYou’s predecessor) was created back in 2008, Sherri Renner figured that people involved in the family courts would not need the kind of help that was being offered. The Florida courts had established self-help centers throughout the state, with most of the resources in those centers being family-law-related. That demographic is covered, Sherri thought.

It wasn’t until she began the work of helping nonlawyers represent themselves that Sherri learned that, despite the available resources, people enmeshed in family courts have the greatest need for assistance. This seeming paradox stems from several factors:

  • The equitable nature of family court actions, which allows judges a lot of discretion,
  • The parties themselves, who may be using the courts for less than proper purposes, and
  • Judges, who may not be trained to discern when their courtrooms are being used for improper purposes.

Certainly these dynamics can be present in cases other than in the family courts, but because they are so prevalent in family court matters that do not resolve quickly and cooperatively, and because the stakes are often quite high, we give these matters high priority.

In addition to the resources listed and linked on this page, we also offer materials and support for when you are preparing for or engaged in divorce/dissolution, child custody, and support issues. 

National Domestic Violence Hotline

“The Hotline,” as it’s widely known, is a federally-funded service with lots of resources for victims and survivors, including considerations for safety plans. Follow the link to the website or call 800-799-7233.

The Hotline® is the only 24/7 center in the nation that has access to service providers and shelters across the U.S. Today, The Hotline continues to grow and explore new avenues of service.

Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit

The Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit is a web-based app that helps victims to document the abuse they suffer. According to the website, the EAA:

tells the victim’s stories, histories and experiences that are preserved and stored on their behalf. It helps give the victim back power and control over their situation. …It allows the voice of the victim to be heard, even when they are not able to tell their story. 

The EAA was created by Susan Murphy Milano, who was a specialist and expert in intimate partner violence and worked nationally with corporations, faith based organizations, domestic violence programs, law enforcement and prosecutors.

Changing Your Social Security Number

Social Security Numbers are assigned at birth and cannot be changed unless certain conditions are met. Situations involving harassment, abuse, or life endangerment are among the conditions allowing for an SSN change request to the Social Security Administration.

Changing your Social Security Number: https://faq.ssa.gov/en-US/Topic/article/KA-02220

Address Confidentiality Programs

More than half of states provide survivors of stalking, sexual assault, and domestic violence with a program that furnishes a legal substitute address and mail forwarding. These are known as address confidentiality programs, and we’ve seen them work well to protect survivors.

This website lists states with these programs and provides links to the relevant web pages for signing up. (This photo links to Colorado’s program.)

If your state is not on the list, reach out to your state attorney general to inquire whether a confidentiality program has been initiated. If no such program exists in your state, please contact us and we will help at no or low cost.

Pursuing Justice Foundation

Pursuing Justice Foundation is LawYou’s nonprofit arm. It was created to assist

self-represented litigants with the educational and monetary support they need to present their cases effectively and create meaningful records.

By providing guidance and essential expense assistance, the Foundation boosts nonlawyers’ opportunities to present their cases effectively, which in turn brings greater overall equity into the courts.

PJF also is home to National Pro Se Day, which provides a unified national platform from which the people can speak to the courts about their experiences.

Institute for Relational Harm Reduction

LawYou works with Sandra Brown, M.A., founder of the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education.

The Institute is a rapidly growing body of people seeking to impact public education surrounding issues related to pathology, personality disorders, and psychopathy.

This growing body are survivors—women, men and their children who have sustained psychological injury because of someone else’s pathology. The only way to give meaning to the horror they lived is to find a ‘voice’ from which they teach others.

Sandra is a thought and research leader into personality traits of and trauma-informed care for survivors. She’s the author of the acclaimed Women Who Love Psychopaths and creator of the Living Recovery Program.

Some Relevant Posts

C.R.’s Story of Legal Abuse

One day many years ago, C.R. met a handsome and charming man. That’s right – her nightmare began, as they often do, as a dream.

“Legal Abuse” Introduction

by Sherri L. Renner, J.D. October 2014; updated March 2015 Legal abuse can be an unexpected and sometimes tragic extension of domestic or intimate partner

Legal Abuse from a Clinical Perspective

“Courtrooms are the perfect platforms for abusers to maintain contact with their victims,” reports Sandra Brown, MA, CEO of the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction

Join the Association for Pro Se Advancement. See this page for more information, a list of benefits, and to register.

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