Trauma-Informed Legal Advocacy

Survivors who turn to the legal system for protection from their abusers, custody of their children, and assistance with other civil legal needs encounter significant barriers. The processes in which a survivor must engage to achieve legal objectives can trigger the effects of trauma, making it difficult for a survivor to fully participate in her case. Moreover, in many cases, the opposing party proffers testimony or introduces other evidence about the mental health of the survivor for the purpose of damaging her credibility and/or raising doubt about her parenting abilities.

To address these barriers, CSAJ partnered with the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health to create Representing Domestic Violence Survivors Experiencing Trauma and Other Mental Health Challenges: An Attorney Handbook, co-authored by Mary Malefyt Seighman, Erika Sussman, and Olga Trujillo. CSAJ staff also conduct trainings on the topic of trauma-informed legal advocacy for interested programs.