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Do many Georgia domestic violence victims lack representation?

As we have previously alluded to, domestic violence is an endemic problem in Georgia and around the United States. The number of domestic violence victims in the country is astounding, and recent high profile cases involving athletes and other celebrities have shed light on the issue. While prevention, as usual, remains the best remedy for such social ills, what happens to victims in the aftermath of a domestic violence attack?

The Georgia Legal Services Program is a non-profit organization that attempts to help low-income individuals with specific legal problems (Not to be confused with Georgia Legal Aid, which is a government-sponsored program). As such, the GLSP is in a unique position to observe the legal process domestic violence victims must navigate. In a recent article in a Georgia paper, the managing attorney for one of these offices relates some staggering numbers: more than 60,000 calls were made to domestic violence organizations in 2015, and police responded to over 70,000. Further, this experienced observer relates that many domestic violence victims appear in court without representation, and as such are at a marked disadvantage.

It is important to note that most people will not qualify for help from GLSP or Legal aid organizations due to the stringent income requirements. Further, these organizations, as a rule, do not take divorce cases or handle other family law matters that may relate to a domestic violence case. This does not mean that victims of domestic violence, who risk their safety by attempting to protect themselves against their abusers, should forego representation.

Being able to coherently relate the incidents of abuse in a hearing for a restraining order or order for protection, and being able to rebut the abuser's defense may be key to receiving the legal protections sought. Those who are suffering from domestic violence have options, and may wish to consider contacting an experienced Georgia family attorney for help.

Source: Augusta Chronicle, "Legal aid program reaches out to advocate for domestic abuse victims," Kenneth Jones, Jan. 16, 2015

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