Duane Morris Pro Bono Team Fights Against Domestic Violence With Women Against Abuse

On Tuesday, September 29, 2015 Duane Morris attorneys and staff in Philadelphia sat with Molly Callahan, Kathleen O’Malley and Azucena Ugarte from Women Against Abuse and partnered with them to help women in intimate partner violence relationships.

Women Against Abuse is a nonprofit agency in Philadelphia who help provide compassionate and nonjudgmental services to those persons who have experienced or are experiencing intimate partner violence. They hope to end domestic violence through advocacy and community education.

In the United States, women ages 18 to 34 are at the greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. More than 4 million women encounter physical assault and rape by their partners and in 2 out of 3 female homicide cases, females are killed by a family member or an intimate partner. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families, and at least 1/3 of families who use New York City’s family shelters are homeless because of domestic violence. Domestic violence not only affects the person who is getting abused, but it also affects the children. More than 3 million children every year witness domestic violence and about 30% to 60% of those children who live in homes of domestic violence face abuse or neglect. Domestic violence consists not only of physical abuse, but also psychological/emotional and economical abuse. About 85% of domestic violence victims are women.

Women Against Abuse have three sites, one shelter site with 200 beds and two transitional sites for women and children, with abuse counselors to help the women. They also help maintain Philadelphia’s 24 hour hotline for domestic violence. Women Against Abuse educators, such as Ugarte, train professionals, students, survivors and community members in how to effectively intervene and stop a cycle of abuse. The Women Against Abuse Legal Center offers free legal advocacy representation for both males and females and help with legal matters including protection from abuse (PFA), child custody and child support, legal options counseling, safety planning and court accompaniment. Duane Morris attorneys and staff will help the legal center with PFA orders and will assist clients in court. In this session, the attorneys and staff not only learned how to effectively file PFA orders, but they also learned how to help clients through this difficult period of time, and help them understand the procedures of the courtroom. Duane Morris will continue to work with Women Against Abuse to help stop the vicious cycle of domestic violence. To get involved with the firm’s work with Women Against Abuse or Pro Bono, please contact Katharyn Christian McGee or KC Obenschain.