Helena- Survivors of domestic violence in the Helena region will soon have more services to help them navigate the legal system to achieve safety for themselves and their children. The Friendship Center recently received a grant from the Office of Violence Against Women Legal Assistance to fund a full-time attorney through a contract with Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA). This attorney will provide community-based comprehensive legal services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence. The funding also will enable the Friendship Center to enhance the capacity of their crisis response advocates.
“Legal representation is often essential to helping survivors leave abusive situations and start new lives for themselves and their children,” said Jenny Eck, Executive Director of The Friendship Center. “We are thrilled to be able to partner with MLSA to offer enhanced legal support to victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence, and stalking through this grant.”
“Survivors of domestic and sexual violence often struggle to access the legal services they need to escape abusive situations and live independently. We’re excited to be able to provide a full-time local Domestic Violence attorney in partnership with the Friendship Center, serving the Helena area,” said Alison Paul, Executive Director of MLSA.
The Friendship Center is headquartered in Helena and serves Lewis & Clark, Jefferson, and Broadwater Counties. The Friendship Center provides direct services to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. These services include legal assistance, counseling services, a safe and secure house to escape a violent situation, as well as legal and emotional advocacy to Survivors. Since 1971, The Friendship Center has provided services to individuals seeking assistance to free themselves from domestic violence and for those who have been affected by sexual assault.
MLSA helped 1,148 survivors and their children statewide in 2018, providing representation and help with orders of protection, property settlement, child support, and other domestic violence related civil legal matters. One landmark study has concluded that the single most important factor in determining whether a woman escapes domestic abuse is her access to civil legal services. The collaboration between the Friendship Center and MLSA will help reach even more individuals experiencing domestic violence and provide them with more comprehensive legal services.
The Partnership with The Friendship Center is just one way that MLSA provides equal justice to all Montanans. Civil legal aid from MLSA assures fairness for all in the justice system, regardless of how much money a person has, and helps Montanans protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families.
Visit KXLH Helena to learn more about the new partnership.