Welcome to the Pro Bono Protective Order Project Non-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, vulnerable, 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 to conduct successful and thorough intake interviews, as well as understand the dynamics and prevalence of domestic violence. If you have any questions or need additional assistance during your volunteer experience, please do not hesitate to reach out to Alison McConnon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your time and assistance with this important project!
WHY YOUR ROLE MATTERS
In addition to avoiding the re-traumatization of domestic violence survivors, the thorough intake interviews you will be conducting will guide the entire protective order case. Through the interview process, you will develop the history of the survivor’s relationship with their abuser while providing support and encouragement to the client. This is the phase of the case where you gather all of the information needed for the lawyer to be successful in court. The information you obtain is going to shape the strategy for the case. Many times, the information you elicit reveals that the client qualifies for a lifetime protective order rather than a two-year order.
Equally important is the fact that an in-depth interview results in the client only having to share their very traumatic experiences a few times over the course of the case. If the intake information is incomplete, the attorney will have to conduct an in-depth re-interview of the client. Having to ask the client additional, or repetitive questions, again and again, forces the client to re-hash the trauma they’ve experienced and unnecessarily burdens survivors. The purpose of this pro bono protective order project is to ensure that survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault have access to the protective orders they need so they can be safe. However, part of being and feeling safe is not having to constantly relive the trauma clients are trying to move on and heal from.
Being an on-going support for survivors of domestic violence is not only rewarding, but is often critical in helping the survivor successfully leave the abusive relationship. Having a consistent support system when everything else in their lives is upheaved and erratic is vital to survivor autonomy and safety. By volunteering with SALSA’s and TRLA’s Pro Bono Protective Order Project, you’re not only helping the survivors with their protective order case, but you’re also helping them move forward so that they and their children can live a happier, safer life.
Below are four videos and their corresponding presentations to provide a basic introduction to domestic violence and protective orders. Please watch these videos before you begin working on your case. Some of the videos are geared toward attorneys, so don’t feel like you have to master everything – just review the materials to be familiar with the information you’ll need for the trauma-informed interviews.
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
2) Trauma-Informed Interviewing for Legal Professionals presented by Neva Fernandez, Advocacy Manager, Texas Legal Services Center
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
4) Litigating Protective Orders in District Court presented by Richard Loza, JD, Staff Attorney, TRLA
Two 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.
- Recognizing Compassion Fatigue, Vicarious Trauma, and Burnout in the Workplace
- 10 Strategies for Managing Compassion Fatigue & Secondary Trauma/TEND
PROTECTIVE ORDER RESOURCES FOR VOLUNTEERS
These resources are available to assist you throughout the protective order case.
- Condensed Protective Order Manual [condensed for non-attorney volunteers] – This is a condensed version of the Protective Order Manual that has been created for non-attorney volunteers. Please read the manual and use the information during the intake interview.
- 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). There are two parts to the form. The first is suggested questions to ask the client. The second part is a space for the volunteer to share their observations after the interview. Please ensure you answer these questions during/after the intake interview and provide the completed form to the volunteer attorney. It’s important to try to get as much of this information as possible so that the attorney won’t have to ask these questions again and we can minimize the risk of re-traumatizing the client. The attorney will use the information you gather 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 conducting your first intake interview of the client. If you’d like, you can keep it with you during your interview and use it as a reference sheet.
- 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 – if you provide this to the client, the attorney will follow-up with them to obtain the completed log.
- 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.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCES FOR CLIENTS
The following documents are important resources for you to review and share with clients.
- 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.
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.
- Honoring Texas Victims 2019 – The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) shares selected short stories from Texas counties honoring domestic violence fatality victims.
- Summary Fact Sheet Honoring TX Victims_1 – Demographic information regarding domestic violence fatalities of women in Texas in 2019.
- Summary Fact Sheet Honoring TX Victims_2 – Demographic information regarding domestic violence fatalities of men and the LGBTQIA+ community in Texas in 2019.