Councilmember Tom Rasmussen
Councilmember Richard Conlin
COUNCIL PASSES AID FOR DOMESTIC-VIOLENCE VICTIMS
Innovative new program provides legal assistance to survivors
SEATTLE — A new legal assistance program to help victims of domestic violence was unanimously approved by the Council today. Last fall the Council added $400,000 to the 2007 and 2008 budget to strengthen domestic violence programs.
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Housing Human Services and Health Committee and a member of the City’s Domestic Violence Prevention Council, said, “Domestic violence victims need immediate legal advice on many issues including how to protect themselves and their families from further violence, access to joint bank accounts, and custody of their children. This program will provide those who cannot afford a lawyer with the assistance they need.” Councilmember Richard Conlin, who spearheaded funding for the program in last year’s budget, said, “Unresolved legal issues, especially family law and immigration, are daunting barriers to domestic violence victims who are trying to achieve safety and self-determination. These monies will help survivors protect their own and their children's safety and to become economically independent from their abusers.” Councilmember Rasmussen said, “When a survivor takes the brave step of seeking help, we want to come to his or her aid quickly.” Councilmember Conlin said, “Domestic violence hurts all of us. It is gratifying to be able to do something to help those in need.”
The funding will provide for two family law attorneys and one paralegal who will work full time providing legal assistance to survivors. The program’s goal is that after victims call the aid line, they would receive a response from a lawyer within one to two hours. The program is scheduled to begin in July. It is estimated that over 1000 victims will be helped annually.