Family Violence

GHLA’s advocacy for family violence victims is decades long and far-reaching. 

We understand that family violence can make the climb out of poverty impossible, that poverty makes it more difficult to escape violence or heal from its effects.

We work with individual clients to make them safer.  We advocate broadly and systemically to improve options and safety for all victims. Our advocacy is victim-defined.

Family Violence Advocacy Highlights

Among the first in the nation, our Domestic Violence Unit began in 1979.  Over the decades GHLA attorneys have represented thousands of family violence victims in divorce, custody, restraining order, employment, housing or immigration matters. 

It is often a long and difficult path to safety for victims living in poverty.   Facing violence, threats, and homelessness can undermine a victim’s sense of security and at times, even hope.  GHLA attorneys understand that effective representation requires a client-defined comprehensive approach.  We pursue legal remedies and connect clients to other services and interventions to make them safer.   

We advocate on a local, state, and national level regarding systemic issues affecting victims living in poverty.

Leadership:
GHLA attorneys serve or have served on: Family Violence Model Policy Governing Council; Task Force on Law Enforcement Response to Family Violence Governor’s Commission on Custody, Divorce and Children; National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Advisory Committee on Effective Intervention in Domestic Violence in Child Abuse Cases: Guidelines for Policy and Practice -- “The Greenbook”; Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence Board of Directors; National Judicial Education on Domestic Violence Project Advisory Committee; Task Force to Study Legal Disputes Involving the Care and Custody of Minor Children; Connecticut Advisory Committee for Parenting Education Programs.  

Additionally, we advocate systemically regarding Connecticut’s laws and legal system to promote safety for victims.  For example, in 2010, GHLA played a role in the passage of a law that provided additional employment protections to family violence victims.

Key Partnerships:
GHLA collaborates with the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence on the Building Comprehensive Solutions to Domestic Violence initiative.  BCSDV provides a victim-defined framework for creating solutions to domestic violence. 

Past projects:
For over 20 years, GHLA and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence shared the Legal Advocacy Project to enhance legal advocacy on family violence issues.  The New England Network on Domestic Violence and Poverty explored a variety of approaches to multi-disciplinary policy development and advocacy to address domestic violence and poverty.  A collaboration with NRCDV, this multi-year project was funded by The Ford Foundation. GHLA administered OVW funds for the Connecticut Domestic Violence Legal Assistance Partnership Statewide Initiative, which teamed lawyers with non-lawyer advocates working in domestic violence shelter programs to enhance the safety of domestic violence victims.

Policy Development and Writing:

  • We write and advocate to increase victim access to legal remedies. We co-authored A Guide to Connecticut’s Family Violence Laws and translated the Guide into Spanish.   We wrote in English and Spanish Family Problems, DCF and the Law: A Guide for Parents/ Problemas de Familia, DCF y la Ley: Una Guía para los Padres.
  • We work to improve understanding of the complexity of victims’ lives and the importance of advocacy that is victim-defined.
    Safety Planning for Battered Women: Complex Lives/Difficult Choices, a book co-authored in 1998 by GHLA’s Deputy Director, introduced a pragmatic, comprehensive, and victim-defined approach to advocacy.
    Domestic Violence Advocacy: Complex Lives/Difficult Choices 2d, Sage Publications (2014), co-authored by GHLA’s Deputy Director.  Grounded in the values and essential elements of the victim defined approach introduced in the first edition, this completely revised exploration of the experiences of victims and the roles of advocates, offers an innovative and practical framework for increasing safety.
    Advocacy Beyond Leaving: Helping Battered Women in Contact with Current or Former Partners: A Guide for Advocates, Futures without Violence (2009), written by GHLA’s Deputy Director.  Thousands of copies have been distributed nationally.
  • We explain the implications of the interconnection between domestic violence and poverty.
    Our Deputy Director wrote a series of papers about domestic violence and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, for the Welfare and Domestic Violence Technical Assistance Initiative practice paper series produced by the NRCDV and funded by DHHS.  She also wrote a Policy Blueprint on Domestic Violence and Poverty as part of the Building Comprehensive Solutions to Domestic Violence Initiative (2002).   In 2010, she was the co-author of a joint report of NRCDV and Legal Momentum entitled, Not Enough: What TANF Offers Family Violence Victims.

Family Violence Publications

GHLA’s deputy director Attorney Jill Davies is the co-author of two books considered important resources for anyone working in the family violence field.  The first, Safety Planning with Battered Women, Sage Publications (1998) introduced the victim-defined approach to advocacy.  Jill developed the core concepts of victim defined advocacy in the late 1980’s as part of a family violence court response project.  She continues to be the catalyst for the evolution of the practice.   The second edition, Domestic Violence Advocacy: Complex Lives/Difficult Choices 2d (2014) offers a completely revised exploration of victim perspectives, lives and decision-making and the individual and systemic advocacy that makes victims safer.

Excerpt
Victims know.  Through the violence, the betrayal of trust, the pain and the chaos, victims know what they are experiencing and what would make things better.  Advocates help.  With limited resources, no easy answers, and sometimes ineffective or even harmful systemic responses, advocates bring compassion, analysis, and access to options.  The combination of victim knowledge and advocate assistance makes victims safer.  This partnership is victim-defined advocacy.”

http://www.sagepub.com/books/Book238008

 

Connecticut Legal Guides

A Guide to Connecticut’s Family Violence Laws, by Kara Hart (GHLA), Jill Davies (GHLA), & Steven Eppler-Epstein, published by CCADV in  2012.

Guía Sobre Las Leyes de Violencia Doméstica en Connecticut, by Kara Hart (GHLA), Jill Davies (GHLA), & Steven Eppler-Epstein, translated by Kara Hart & Rafael Rodriquez Cruz(GHLA), published by CCADV in 2012.

Family Problems, DCF and the Law: A Guide for Parents, English

Family Problems, DCF and the Law: A Guide for Parents, Problemas de Familia, DCF y la Ley: Una Guía para los Padres

Advocacy Beyond Leaving: Helping Battered Women in Contact with Current or Former Partners: A Guide for Advocates, by Jill Davies, published by Futures Without Violence (formerly FVPF) in 2009.

Davies, J., Helping Sexual Assault Survivors with Multiple Victimizations and Needs: A Guide for Agencies Serving Sexual Assault Survivors, published by GHLA in 2007.

Confidentiality and Information Sharing Issues for Domestic Violence Advocates Working with Child Protection and Juvenile Court Systems, by Jill Davies for the Greenbook National Technical Assistance Team (NCJFCJ, FVPF, APHSA), 2003.

Davies, J., Supervised Visitation Programs: Information for Mothers Who Have Experienced Abuse, by Jill Davies, published by Futures Without Violence (formerly FVPF) in 2007.

The following papers are available through the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women at http://www.vawnet.org/.

Davies, J., Policy Blueprint on Domestic Violence and Poverty, Building Comprehensive Solutions to Domestic Violence Initiative, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, 2002.

Davies, J., When Battered Women Stay….Advocacy Beyond Leaving, Building Comprehensive Solutions to Domestic Violence Initiative, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, 2008.

A series of papers about domestic violence and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996; along with Building Opportunities for Battered Women’s Safety and Self-Sufficiency and Family Violence Protocol Development, written for the Welfare

Casey, T., Davies, J., Gifford, A., Menard, A., Not Enough: What TANF Offers Family Violence Victims, A joint report of NRCDV & Legal Momentum, 2010.

Building Comprehensive Solutions to Domestic Violence

GHLA collaborates with the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence on the Building Comprehensive Solutions to Domestic Violence initiative.  Its mission is to promote victim-defined advocacy and responses.  Learn more at: http://www.bcsdv.org/.