PILP Gets Primer on Domestic Violence Law

Last week, the Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) heard from Mithra Merryman (Greater Boston Legal Services) and Margo Lindauer (Northeastern University School of Law) on how the legal system works to help victims of domestic violence (DV) . After reviewing the legal definitions of violence and abuse, the presenters moved to cover more specific components faced when assisting a victim of domestic violence.

Victims may request a restraining order against their abuser, which can be applied either where the victim is living or where the majority of abuse occurred. Merryman and Lindauer shared the benefits and drawbacks of both jurisdictions and discussed instances when a restraining order may not benefit the victim. Additionally, PILP heard how domestic violence cases are impacted when the victim is an immigrant. The speakers described that many DV victims are less likely to come forward if they fear deportation and that abusers will use the threat of deportation against their victims. While the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 allows married Green Card holders to file immigrant visa petitions, unmarried immigrants are not covered by the act. The co-presenters also stressed throughout the meeting that the prevalence of domestic violence is the same across all demographics: race, age, socioeconomic status, sexual & gender orientation, etc.

If you’re interested in pro bono projects related to domestic violence, the presenters suggest looking into the below organizations*:

*All organizations listed are 2016 Grantees of the Boston Bar Foundation