When Sandra – not her real name, a single mother of two young kids, decided to let her children stay with their grandmother for a couple of weeks over the summer to save on childcare costs, she didn’t realize the consequences that would bring.
Her abusive ex-husband and the father of the children responded to this news with violent threats that made Sandra fear for her family’s safety – threats to kidnap their children and even to kill Sandra. A Georgia Legal Services attorney helped Sandra get a temporary protective order against him, and the incessant calls and threats stopped completely. Sandra can once again live in peace, focusing on taking care of herself and her kids.
As an attorney at Georgia Legal Services, I’ve heard many people question the benefits of a temporary protective order. A temporary protective order is more than just a piece of paper. Studies show that temporary protective orders have a one in two chance of ending the abuse altogether for the victim. For those who continue to experience violence by their abuser following the protective order, over time, the violence stops or is significantly reduced, according to a Department of Justice study.
Having a lawyer increases the chances that a victim of domestic violence can obtain a temporary protective order. The free civil legal services provided by Georgia Legal Services to domestic violence victims protect victims from further violence. Our society benefits, too, according to The Institute for Policy Integrity, which found that “the benefits to be gained by subsidizing more legal services can often justify their costs.”
For every $1 spent for civil legal services to obtain a protective order for domestic violence victims, $30 in public costs are saved.
One in four women in the United States become victims of severe physical violence at the hands of their intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Domestic violence not only has incalculable costs to the victims and their families, but to the community as well. The CDC estimates that domestic violence costs the United States over $9 billion each year in medical costs, law enforcement and social services. Georgia Legal Services has obtained millions of dollars in economic benefits for victims, and has set high goals to shape the national narrative around family violence away from victim-blaming and toward supportive, holistic, results-oriented solutions.
Call Georgia Legal Services at 1-800-498-9469 to learn more about what you can do to help end domestic violence in Georgia. Or, visit Georgia Legal Services’ website at www.glsp.org, and click on Donate Now to make a contribution. Georgia Legal Services is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation with a mission to provide civil legal services for persons with low incomes, creating equal access to justice and opportunities out of poverty.
Family Violence Project director
Georgia Legal Services