CourtWatch – New initiative will use technology to aid Court observation

CourtWatch – New initiative will use technology to aid Court observation

This post is part of DC SAFE’s CourtWatch project, which provides system analysis of civil Court, as experienced by survivors of domestic violence, through observation of Court proceedings in partnership with the DC Superior Court.  This is the new home of CourtWatch updates; archived posts can be found here.

We are pleased to announce that this fall, DC SAFE is implementing a new electronic data capture program at the D.C. Superior Court, Domestic Violence Unit.  DC SAFE has long partnered with the DC Superior Court, allowing volunteers and advocates to record key data on access to justice for domestic violence survivors in Civil Protection Order proceedings, including demographic data on parties, judicial behaviors, and case outcomes.

Despite successful reports and blog posts from in recent years, DC SAFE staff and our institutional supporters recognized the necessity of an efficient data recording system to enable us to analyze our data quickly, and to ultimately publish fresh data that reflect the current practices of judges and the experience of Petitioners and Respondents at Court.  By using electronic data recording and automated data analysis on Court-approved tablets, DC SAFE and CourtWatch hope that this process will help us to identify meaningful features of the justice system, and be more immediately responsive to the trends we uncover.

 

Look for upcoming posts on CourtWatch observations in the  most recent year:

Over the next month, DC SAFE will share our recent findings from Civil Protection Order proceeding data and preliminary analyses.

You can look forward to reading about:

Demographics of Civil Protection Order Litigants

An Overview of the Civil Protection Order Process and Recently Observed Outcomes

Relationship Between Case Outcomes and Demographics

Factors in Judicial Behavior

Relationship Between Judicial Behaviors and Litigant Demographics

Legal Representation and Case Outcomes

 

Looking for a Volunteer Opportunity? 

Or how about an opportunity to learn about the D.C. Courts and/or domestic violence within the legal system?

We invite you to join our growing team of DC Safe CourtWatch volunteers who observe Civil Protection Order proceedings at the D.C. Superior Court, CPO session!  Our new recording program makes it easier than ever to contribute to our work, which ensures that victims of Domestic Violence have equal access to a clear, fair and consistent judicial process that prioritizes victim safety and offender accountability.

All volunteers must participate in a specialized training session, and will be required to sign authorized use agreements before accessing the Court or observation technology.

Please see the volunteer page for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

DC SAFE Welcomes New Director of Advocacy

DC SAFE Welcomes New Director of Advocacy

DC SAFE is excited to announce our new Director of Advocacy, Erin Hill. Erin began working with DC SAFE in 2012 and has more than three years of experience providing direct services for survivors of both intimate partner and domestic violence. Beginning her career with DC SAFE as a Court Advocacy Intern, she was promoted to Advocate, and later to Lead Advocate.

Erin has provided crisis intervention and supportive advocacy services for hundreds of survivors. In her new role, she will be responsible for supervising Advocates to ensure the coordination and collaboration between programs and projects within DC SAFE, with the goal of making advocacy consistent and efficient for all clients.

Erin has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and English from Johns Hopkins University and is currently earning a Master’s Degree in Governmental Studies from Johns Hopkins University.

 

Response Line Sees Increased Referrals

Response Line Sees Increased Referrals

Since April 2015, DC SAFE has received an increasing number of referrals into our Response Line from survivors in need of services. We predict that this trend will continue increasing further into summer months.

DC SAFE’s Response Line program continues to play an important role in providing survivors of domestic violence with immediate crisis intervention services including; risk assessment, safety planning and crisis shelter.

As the graph below about referrals into the Response Line shows, referrals received during the first 6 months of 2015 are higher than previous years. We predict that we will receive increasing referrals during the next coming months.

Response Line Call Charts

Please consider making a donation today to support the increased need for crisis intervention services.

 

Advocates of the Month: July 2015

Advocates of the Month: July 2015

DC SAFE’s Bilingual Advocates are the Advocates of the Month!

 DC SAFE’s Bilingual Advocates provide services for Spanish speaking domestic violence survivors at SAFE Space shelter, The District of Columbia’s two Domestic Violence Intake Centers, The Response Line, and through On-Call Responses for victims in crisis.
Immigrant domestic violence victims face many barriers to seeking safety for themselves and their children, including fear of deportation, fear of law enforcement, and language barriers. DC SAFE’s Bilingual Advocates help survivors meet their individual needs so they can become safe and empowered.

The District of Columbia is home to large and diverse immigrant communities, the largest of which are Latino/Latina immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico.  In fact, this group makes up 13% of the District’s overall population. Last year, DC SAFE provided services for more than 350 Latina survivors.

Where Are They Now?

Where Are They Now?

What’s life like after a DC SAFE Internship? Find out what some of our amazing former interns are up to now. Don’t forget to apply for a DC SAFE internship today.

30631_1403472079090_2094055_n

Nesta Johnson was a Court Advocacy Intern specializing in the Lethality Assessment Project during the Fall of 2012.

What interested you about interning with DC SAFE?
 
“I knew I wanted to work in child welfare and that DV cases are very common. I wanted to learn more about DV and gain hands-on experience working with survivors of trauma and people in crisis.”
 
What are you doing now?
 
“I represent youth (ranging in age from newborns to 21) in child abuse and neglect cases in Brooklyn Family Court.”
 
How did your work at DC SAFE impact your life?
 
“It cemented my desire to work in family law, gave me a huge appreciation for how desperately services for survivors and their families are needed and for what a huge effect organizations like SAFE can make. It also helped me understand what practical needs survivors have – from lock changes to phones to housing.”
 
What would you tell prospective interns and volunteers?
 
“Definitely do it! You will learn a lot and you will feel good about what you’re doing for people. Stress and secondary trauma do happen – but your colleagues will be a great support system.”

 

photo

Katharine Donohoe was a Development and Outreach Intern during the Summer of 2012.

What interested you about interning with DC SAFE?

“I think I was most interested in interning with SAFE because it combined two of my areas of study really well — communications (essentially) and women’s studies. Also, I had to meet an internship requirement for my major and also wanted to get a bit more ‘real world’ experience.”

What are you doing now?

“Currently, I’m a technical writer for Cvent, a SaaS (software as a service) company based in McLean. After graduating college in 2013, I also completed a development and events internship with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and worked for a start-up called Relay Foods. Also, I’m just about to start up as an online hotline volunteer with RAINN. ”

How did your work at DC SAFE impact your life?

“Working at SAFE impacted my life in that I don’t think I would have ever encountered so many talented, smart, and passionate women all in one place! Compared to my current work environment, I feel really glad that one of my first experiences in a professional setting was with SAFE; in that it was supportive, collaborative, but also incredibly focused and driven. Also, it just generally opened my eyes to a very real and serious issue that impacts so many members of the Washington, DC community that needs attention. I grew up in Arlington, Virginia but my family has long been in the Washington, DC area and I don’t know if I would have worked with the advocates and survivors that I did had I not interned with SAFE.”

What would you tell prospective interns and volunteers?

“I would tell prospective interns and volunteers that it truly is an amazing organization. As I’ve been writing out these responses, I’m remembering the people I got to work with and I’m just incredibly glad I got to do so the summer I interned. That said, I would also say to them, do more! Volunteer for more ride-alongs or anything else you can.”


 

2668178

Audra Passinault was a Court Advocacy Program intern during the Summer of 2013.

What interested you about interning with DC SAFE?

“I was originally interested in interning with DC SAFE to gain an inside perspective on the challenges domestic violence survivors face when navigating the legal system.  As a law student, I wanted to understand the interactions survivors had with police, with the legal system and how I could become a meaningful advocate.”

What are you doing now?

Now I am finishing my last year at Notre Dame Law School.  This fall, I will begin my job with the Legal Aid Foundation in Chicago, working with immigrant populations, domestic violence victims and victims of human trafficking.”

How did your work at DC SAFE impact your life?

“Not only did I gain knowledge of the realities of domestic violence and the challenges our society has with meeting the needs of survivors, but I also came to truly appreciate the strength of the clients I served. I left DC SAFE inspired to continue my work as an advocate and armed with the experience necessary to combat the obstacles of domestic violence.  Also, learning from individuals who have dedicated their careers to service was encouraging and my mentor relationship with Erin Hill provided a great deal of validation and support.”

What would you tell prospective interns and volunteers?

“Being an advocate with DC SAFE was not always the easiest or most comfortable job, but I learned more about the legal system and social realities in this position than I had in any other job.  The staff is very supportive and takes a great deal of time helping you learn how to be an effective advocate and ensuring you are receiving invaluable hands-on experience. You will learn about the DC community, domestic violence trends nationwide, be on the forefront of domestic violence policy.”


 

elizabeth jahr

Elizabeth Jahr was a dual intern, working both on the Response Line and in our Court Advocacy Program, during the Spring of 2012.

What interested you about interning with DC SAFE?

“I was initially interested about working at DC SAFE because I wanted to pursue a career in law and thought an internship that related to the legal system would help me get some perspective. I had known a few people on my college campus that had been involved in dating violence, so I thought this would be a good way to give back to the community and start getting involved in legal work.”

What are you doing now?

“Now I work at Community Connections in Washington, D.C., which helps people (many of which are also very economically and socially marginalized) recover from mental health conditions. I am a community support specialist and provide services to consumers with a history of trauma.”
 

How did your work at DC SAFE impact your life?

“Once I started working at SAFE though I realized right off the bat that I didn’t want to pursue a career in law because what I liked most was working one-on-one with the survivors and empowering them to move forward. So interning at DC SAFE impacted my life a lot: it sent me on a completely different career path! It opened my eyes to so many of the overlapping challenges our economically disadvantaged clients faced and it made me want to build better communities.”
 

What would you tell prospective interns and volunteers?

“My advice to prospective interns and volunteers is to really listen to every survivor. I feel like working with them taught me so much and many of their stories still stick with me today. Interning at DC SAFE has a lot to offer and you will learn so much while you are there! I highly recommend it to anyone.”

 

Headshot Ellen HutchinsonEllen Hutchinson was the Lethality Assessment Project Intern during the Spring of 2013.

What interested you about interning with DC SAFE?

“I was a Political Science and Women’s Studies major. I really wanted to get my feet wet and have some real-world experience, and I felt the SAFE internship was a good way to combine my two majors. I also wanted an internship that would make a real impact, while giving me substantive experience.”

What are you doing now?

“I graduated from George Washington University in May 2014 and am now in my first year of law school at George Mason University.”
 

How did your work at DC SAFE impact your life?

 “I learned so much in my time at SAFE. I learned not only about procedural things–court proceedings, social services, MPD, etc.–but also about bigger and systemic issues surrounding domestic violence–socioeconomics, sex and gender, trauma informed care, safety and more. It also gave me a much greater appreciation for non-profits and the people who work for them. I met so many passionate people who cared so much about what they did and worked so hard to help their clients; it continues to inspire me.”
 

What would you tell prospective interns and volunteers?

“Every time I tell someone where I interned, they always say ‘Wow, that must have been tough.’ And the truth is that it was tough. But it was an incredible experience, and I learned so much. So I would tell prospective interns and volunteers not to be intimidated by the subject matter. We all felt nervous when we first started, but that goes away. And always keep in mind how important what you’re doing is.”

Thank You for Keeping DC SAFE

Thank You for Keeping DC SAFE

Last week was National Volunteer Week recognizing the important contributions that volunteers make throughout the year.

DC SAFE is fortunate to have the dedication of community members who serve as Court Watch Program Volunteers and Response Line Volunteers.

In just this last year, Response Line volunteers volunteered for a total of 1,266 hours providing crisis intervention and advocacy for survivors. Volunteers also went on Ride Alongs with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and provided in-person services for survivors at the scene of crimes.

Thank you for volunteering your time to make a difference for survivors! Volunteers are an essential part of DC SAFE’s mission and we could not do what we do without the dedication of our volunteers.

If you’re interested in learning more about DC SAFE’s volunteer program or about finding out how you can become a volunteer, you can find information here.

 

Advocates of the Month: April 2015

Advocates of the Month: April 2015

DC SAFE’s Shelter Advocates are the Advocates of the Month!

Hanaleah and Elizabeth serve as advocates at SAFE’s crisis shelter for domestic violence survivors, SAFE Space. As Shelter Advocates, Hanaleah and Elizabeth provide services and advocacy for survivors and children staying at the shelter and help survivors meet their long-term housing goals.

During just last year alone, more than 750 survivors and children came to SAFE Space. DC SAFE’s Shelter Advocates play an important role in empowering survivors to reclaim their lives after domestic violence.

In addition, both Hanaleah and Elizabeth provide supportive advocacy for survivors at D.C.’s two Domestic Violence Intake Centers and serve as a resource for other Advocates working with survivors who have housing-related questions.

Domestic Violence and the Elderly

Domestic Violence and the Elderly

Domestic violence can happen to anyone and elderly populations are no exception. 90% of elderly domestic violence victims are abused by a family member* and specifically 2/3 of victims are abused by spouses or children**.  Since 2005, DC SAFE has provided crisis intervention and advocacy services for more than 950 elderly survivors.

As part of an ongoing project with the DC Courts, DC SAFE, alongside Assistant Attorney General Sarah Connell, trained more than 100 community members at the District of Columbia Guardianship Assistance Program’s Seventh Annual Guardianship Conference. SAFE provided information on safety planning and resources for elderly victims of domestic violence. Training participants included family members and guardians appointed by the DC Superior Court.

Training participants reported an increased knowledge of safety planning and resources available for elderly survivors.

DC SAFE is honored to participate in this important training. As a leading organization in the District of Columbia providing crisis response services and supportive advocacy for survivors of domestic violence, training and technical assistance is an integral part of SAFE’s mission. To learn more about SAFE’s Training and Technical Assistance Program or to request a training click here.

*Administration on Aging, National Center on Elder Abuse; MetLife Mature Market Institute, Broken Trust, Elders, Families and Finances, March 2009

** OWL, Elder Abuse: A Woman’s Issue, March 2009

 

Advocate of the Month: January 2015

Advocate of the Month: January 2015

Kylie is January’s Advocate of the Month!

In January, Kylie excelled at her individual client work, providing on-going, comprehensive services to clients both on the Response Line and in the Domestic Violence Intake Centers. Kylie played an integral role in the expansion of our Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Access Project, providing 24-hour in-person services to survivors who present at Washington Hospital Center for a domestic violence forensic exam.

Aside from her client work, Kylie is responsible for monthly statistics for our Response Line and ensures that we are up to date on our billing so that we can continue to place clients in crisis housing 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

Welcoming New Beginnings

Welcoming New Beginnings

Artwork created by a survivor staying at SAFE Space to welcome other survivors.

A new year is a time to reflect on new beginnings. We are so grateful for the generosity of DC SAFE’s supporters who raised a total of $28,528 for SAFE Space during our holiday campaign. With these funds, more survivors can receive crisis housing and supportive services to create a new beginning free from violence and abuse.

SAFE also received an outpouring of support for survivors through in-kind donations from SAFE’s Amazon Wish List. We also received generous support from local groups such as employees giving programs and faith-based organizations, such as New Direction Church. These donations will be vital to helping survivors and their children feel more comfortable and at home.

We were touched to receive many special messages from community members expressing their support of SAFE and the survivors that SAFE empowers.

“You are an amazing organization and I’m in awe of the work you do to help people who come to SAFE. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and a happy 2015.”

“My daughter is volunteering for your organization and I would like to make a donation in her honor. May this donation help you reach your financial goals and to continue the work you do in support of individuals who have suffered at the hands of domestic violence.”

“This donation is made by my company’s Charitable Contributions Company. DC Safe was recognized as an organization making a difference in our local community and we wanted to help.”

We are so grateful to receive generous support from our volunteers, board members, community members, and many others. Your support welcomes survivors and their children to a new life free from abuse and violence.