The Legal Aid lawyers who help domestic violence victims deserve our thanks and praise (and our money if you care to help support them). They are the ones in the trenches with victims who are being abused and children who are observing abuse. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with these lawyers about how civil lawyers can help these same domestic violence victims. It was a great opportunity for us to share tips – I know I learned some new things and I hope that I was able to share some new ideas with them also.
The reality is that 93% of childhood sexual abuse is committed by someone the victim knows. Attorneys who are involved in family law can help address the immediate legal needs of these families. The criminal law sometimes addresses the perpetrators. A civil lawyer can help after the fact by holding perpetrators accountable, whether or not the criminal system has done so. Often, these perpetrators also have “helpers,” people who had a suspicion but did nothing. Or worse, people who knew and did nothing. Sometimes this includes institutions that serve families. In Oklahoma, every adult is a “mandatory reporter.” If you suspect a child is being abused or has been abused, it is your legal duty to call the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-800-522-3511 to report. Failure to do so can result in criminal or civil consequences.
Often I speak with victims who are in immediate need of assistance to escape an abusive situation. I always direct these folks to family law specialists, whether private attorneys or Legal Aid. The civil litigation process is lengthy and is focused on getting compensation for victims. It is very useful for holding perpetrators accountable, but not so hot at addressing pressing crises. That’s why it’s helpful to have a team of lawyers who can address all needs.
If you’d like to discuss your legal options, contact Koller Trial Law today for a free consultation.