Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Welcome to my blog page for information regarding domestic violence. The hope is that this blog will serve as a resource for the various folks who need assistance related to domestic violence: survivors, crisis advocates, culturally specific service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, court personnel, attorneys, and other allied professionals who are all engaged in some way in overcoming or intervening in domestic violence.

I've been working in the anti-domestic violence field for 18 years and have been considering starting a blog for many years now. I have worn many hats over the course of my career. I began like so many advocates do by volunteering at a local DV crisis agency, completing an intensive training program and answering the crisis line. Perhaps less common, I simultaneously volunteered at an abuser treatment program, working with those who perpetrated domestic violence. During my social work masters program I continued to work in these areas and after graduating with my MSW was the director of an abuser treatment program for two years. While I felt the work I was doing was important and valuable, I often was frustrated by my inability to make broader changes and understand the legal system- an inevitable part of so many victims and perpetrators' lives. This drove me to attend law school with the specific goal of continuing to work in the domestic violence field.

Since obtaining my law degree I have continued to dedicate my career to assisting victims of domestic violence and continue to characterize myself as a "social worker with a law degree." I began by prosecuting, focusing as much as I could specifically on domestic violence prosecution. I integrated my social work background into working with victims, focusing on a victim-centered approach to prosecution and utilizing evidence-based techniques to minimize the impact on victims and still hold offenders accountable when necessary. After leaving the District Attorney's Office, I represented victims in their civil protective orders as a Domestic Violence Staff Attorney with Durham Legal Aid. For the last four and a half years I've worked to improve statewide response to domestic violence as the Legal & Policy Director for the NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In that role I worked with our state legislators to pass new legislation to strengthen protections for survivors. I trained law enforcement, prosecutors, court personnel, advocates, and allied professionals across the state. Survivors, and those who work with them, called me to have their questions answered.

I am passionate about helping survivors. Currently I am back in a courtroom, in private practice, assisting survivors by representing them in their request for protective orders. However the criminal system also creates barriers for survivors who are oftentimes charged with offenses. These charges can cause additional difficulty in leaving an abusive partner by making it hard to find a job or housing. In addition, research has educated us that economic insecurity is an enormous risk factor for perpetrating violence. Therefore I am excited to be working towards the safety of survivors both by intervening with protective orders as well as through primary prevention by helping survivors and others maintain a clean criminal history when appropriate.

Throughout all of this work, I have seen those who wish to help survivors lack the tools and information to do so effectively. Certainly it's near impossible for survivors to figure out how to navigate both community and legal systems to maximize their protection. In the questions I have received over the years, there have been both common themes and unique inquiries. My hope is that this blog will serve as a place that folks can turn to for answers to best help themselves, loved ones, or survivors whom they encounter through their professional roles. I'll post as time allows on domestic-violence related topics that I hope will be helpful to survivors or those who work with them. I encourage readers who may have a topic or problem that they would like to see covered to message me. I'm happy to try to answer you directly when I can and consider the issue as a blog post topic if others are likely to benefit from it as well.

I've been honored to work with so many courageous survivors over the years. It is because of them, and for them, that I continue to do this work.