Welcome to the Pro Bono Protective Order Project Attorney Volunteer Resource Page!  San Antonio Legal Services Association (SALSA) has partnered with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) to launch the Pro Bono Protective Order Project.  On behalf of SALSA and TRLA, we are excited you have chosen to volunteer with our program! 

We thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to volunteer and help indigent and at-risk victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking receive the protective orders they need.  Not only has there been an increase in domestic violence incidents and homicides in our community in recent history, but this problem has only worsened due to the isolation victims are experiencing because of restrictions implemented during COVID-19.  By volunteering with our pro bono project, you are helping victims of domestic violence escape a dangerous situation and keep themselves and their children safe. 

We encourage you to review the training materials provided in the links below.  Our goal is to provide you with the tools and support necessary so that you understand the dynamics and prevalence of domestic violence in order to be trauma-informed in your representation of this vulnerable population.  If you have any questions or need additional assistance during your volunteer experience, please do not hesitate to reach out to Hilary Showers at [email protected].  Thank you for your time and assistance with this important project! 

Training Resources 

WHY YOUR ROLE MATTERS 

You are helping survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault get and stay safe.  By representing the survivors throughout the entirety of the case, you are allowing them to get the protective orders they need, but would not ordinarily be able to afford.  You will make a difference with each case you take – a life you’ll be helping to change and protect. 

Throughout this process, you are also a much-needed support for the survivors who, during this turbulent time in their life, need consistency and stability.  When everyone involved in this process is trauma-informed, we are able not only to keep survivors safe, but also help them heal and move on from their traumatic experiences.  Having a consistent support system when everything else in their lives is upheaved and erratic is vital to survivor autonomy and safety. 

You will be at the heart of this process by representing the clients during some of the scariest parts for them – in court, in front of a judge, but more so, in front of their abuser.  With your empathy and legal skills, you will be the reason many of these survivors are able to face their fears and begin closing a horrible chapter of their lives.  By volunteering with SALSA’s and TRLA’s Pro Bono Protective Order Project, you’re not only helping the survivors obtain the protective orders they need, but you’re also helping them move forward so that they and their children can live a happier, safer life. 

TRAINING VIDEOS 

Below are four training videos to provide a basic introduction to domestic violence and protective orders.  Please watch these videos before you begin working on your case(s).   

1) Dynamics of Domestic Violence: Ethical Considerations for Legal Professionals Working with Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Protective Order Cases presented by Dorie Budde, LMSW, Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate for Joint Base San Antonio 

Victim Advocacy in the Legal Process

 2) Trauma-Informed Interviewing for Legal Professionals presented by Neva Fernandez, Advocacy Manager, Texas Legal Services Center 

Trauma-Informed Interviewing

 3) Protective Orders 101: Texas Family Code and Code of Criminal Procedure Protective Orders presented by Erin Martinson, JD, Team Manager, Domestic Violence and Family Team, TRLA 

POs 101

 4) Litigating Protective Orders in District Court (https://youtu.be/UN0Az6811k8) presented by Richard Loza, JD, Staff Attorney, TRLA 

Two additional training videos on recognizing and managing compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, and burnout are included below.  Please watch these videos and familiarize yourself with the signs of compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, and burnout.  The videos also provide suggestions for planning for and combating the side effects of working with trauma victims.  

1) Recognizing Compassion Fatigue, Vicarious Trauma, and Burnout in the Workplace

2) 10 Strategies for Managing Compassion Fatigue & Secondary Trauma/TEND

PROTECTIVE ORDER RESOURCES 

These resources are available to assist you throughout the protective order case. 

PROTECTIVE ORDER MANUAL – The Protective Order Manual is a comprehensive guide to protective orders.  It is a step-by-step guide for representing victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in protective order cases.  The manual will walk you through applying for and obtaining a protective order, including what to file and how to help prepare your client through all stages of trial. 

Intake Form – This is a modified screening template (the risk assessment referenced in the Protective Order Manual has been integrated into the original screening template).  The non-attorney volunteers have been instructed to use this form during the initial trauma-informed interview and provide a completed copy to the volunteer attorney.  The completed intake form will provide information about the Q&A portion of the interview and will also include the non-attorney volunteer’s observations about the client. You will use this information in assessing which type(s) of protective order(s) the client needs. 

How Do I Write Incidents of Violence – This one-page guide provides additional information to help you inquire about, describe, and document instances of abuse.  Please read this prior to working on your first case. 

Stalking Log – This is the same Stalking Log provided by the link in the Protective Order Manual.  It is included here for easy access when you feel a client may need it. The non-attorney volunteer that conducted intake may have provided the client with a stalking log at the conclusion of the intake interview. 

CPO Guide – This guide for improving practice with civil protective orders was created by National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) and the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith and Credit (NCPOFFC).  It is intended to provide a foundational understanding of the values and practices required for a better civil protective order system.  The guide has three major sections: Common Ground, Discipline-Specific Chapters, and Issues in Focus.  Common Ground sets forth the gold standard values and practices for improving civil protective order practice.  Discipline-Specific Chapters provides strategies and guidance for the numerous legal disciplines involved in ensuring safety for victims.  Issues in Focus discusses three areas, firearms, military issues, and technology, that are critical to reaching an effective implementation of the values and strategies provided in the CPO Guide. 

ABA Standards of Practice in Civil Protection Orders – The American Bar Association compiled this reference for attorneys handling civil protective order cases.  The reference discusses attorneys’ ethical duties, client safety, scope of representation, and procedures for civil protective order cases. 

On the Edge of Homicide: Strangulation as a Prelude – This short article discusses the statistics, warning signs, symptoms of strangulation.  It also provides additional resources regarding this topic. 

PLEADINGS AND LITIGATION SUPPORT

The following are examples of pleadings you will need in a protective order case.  No pleading is complete and must be tailored to each individual case and client’s needs. 

  • Application for Protective Order – This is the initial request for a protective order. 
  • E-Filing: The e-File Guide is below in case you run into any issues utilizing the Texas e-File system. For many of our volunteers, this may be the first time you’ve filed on behalf of an indigent client. We’ve provided relevant guidance on this process below.
  • Protective Order Litigation Guide

ORDERS 

The following are examples of orders you will need in a protective order case.  No order is complete and must be adapted to each individual case and client’s need. 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCES FOR CLIENTS 

The non-attorney volunteers may have already shared some of the following resources with the client.  You should familiarize yourself with the documents and be prepared to share them with the client in case the non-attorney has not done so or in the event that the client has misplaced these documents. 

  • DV Services Directory – Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) compiled a list of organizations that provide family violence shelter, counseling, and prevention services.  The list is sorted by type of organization and listed alphabetically by city and county. 
  • PowerControlWheel_English – The Power & Control Wheel illustrates the different types of abuse an abuser uses to maintain power and control over their partner. 
  • PowerControlWheel_Spanish – La Rueda de Poder y Control muestra los diferentes tipos de abuso que usa un abusador para mantener el poder y el control sobre su pareja. 
  • SafetyPlan_LongForm – The Safety Plan is the most important tool for victims.  The form provides questions and suggestions for survivors to help keep them safe during the various stages of escaping an abusive relationship. Having a safety plan in place can save a victim’s life and should be reevaluated often as abuser tactics may change over the course of a victim leaving. 

ADDITIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCES 

Below are additional resources that tell the stories of domestic violence victims who were killed by their abusers and important demographic information about the victims.  Protective orders and court intervention are important tools that can help keep survivors and their children safe before situations escalate.