Consumer Rights for Domestic Violence Survivors Initiative
The Consumer Rights for Domestic and Sexual Violence Survivors Initiative (The Initiative) is a national project that seeks to enhance consumer rights for domestic violence survivors by building the capacity of and building collaborative partnerships between domestic violence and consumer lawyers and advocates.
Consumer law can provide survivors of domestic violence with critical tools to restore themselves financially. While many economic justice efforts have focused upon maximizing income, consumer law remedies offer survivors of domestic violence with the tools to minimize expenses and assets by addressing issues such as debt collection defense, credit discrimination, bankruptcy actions, utility assistance, repairing and building credit, tax relief (including innocent spouse relief), foreclosure prevention and defense, and accessing educational opportunities for themselves and their children.
Despite the overlap between the work of domestic violence and consumer lawyers, there is an enormous gap in collaboration between the fields. This has potentially dangerous consequences for survivors. While domestic violence attorneys typically focus on physical protections and family law matters, consumer lawyers focus on longer-term financial legal issues. Enhanced capacity and collaboration between domestic violence and consumer lawyers is critical to achieving the joint goals of physical and economic safety. It requires purposeful cross-training, networking, and sustained partnership building on the local and national levels.
CRDVSI offers technical assistance to lawyers and advocates across the nation through:
- a specialized listserv
- web resources
- individual technical assistance
- advocacy tools: look for a comprehensive guidebook and advocacy briefs for advocates and attorneys to be released in the 2015-2016 project period
- national conferences
- building partnerships demonstration site technical assistance and pilot projects
CRDVSI partners include the National Consumer Law Center, the Feerick Center for Social Justice located at Fordham Law School, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the Center for Court Innovation, Home Free, Wider Opportunities for Women, along with a cadre of Expert Advisors available to offer individualized technical assistance to attorneys and advocates on consumer rights legal advocacy for domestic violence survivors.