Brooks, McMorris Rodgers join together to help provide legal aid to assault survivors
U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) helped lead the introduction of bipartisan legislation on Tuesday that would connect survivors of domestic and sexual violence with legal representation.
The POWER Act would require each U.S. Attorney’s office to host a public event in support of pro bono legal services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in an effort to provide legal representation to more survivors.
“Survivors of domestic violence are not guaranteed access to a lawyer, a fact which can trap survivors in a cycle of abuse and prevent them from securing critical protective orders,” Brooks said.
“Civil legal services provide vital resources and advice to survivors and help them get out of abusive situations. Too often, survivors aren’t aware of or able to gain access to the legal resources available to them. The POWER Act will help connect victims of domestic violence to legal aid, empower survivors and raise awareness about the need for pro bono legal services,” Brooks said.
Survivors who can afford to retain a lawyer obtain restraining orders in 83 percent of domestic and sexual violence cases, compared to 32 percent in cases without legal representation, studies show.
“When it often feels there is nowhere else to turn, survivors of domestic violence should know that there are resources available to them,” McMorris Rodgers said. “This legislation encourages survivors to step out of the shadows, and break free from the cycle of abuse.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), who first introduced the bill in the 114th Congress, said access to legal representation allows fear and intimidation to follow domestic violence survivors into courtrooms.