KCSDV’s Legal Assistance for Victims Project Impact

The Legal Assistance for Victims Project (LAV Project) at KCSDV is building an LAV Attorney Network of trauma informed attorneys across the state. It is connecting and providing sexual assault survivors with crucial legal assistance and representation they need. The LAV Project seeks to fund legal representation for the various issues that victims of non-intimate partner sexual violence encounter. A non-intimate partner is a person who is not a current or former spouse or current or former dating partner. A non-intimate partner includes family members, neighbors, friends, acquaintances, and coworkers.

By building collaborations along with an LAV Attorney Network, the LAV Project will improve representation available for Kansans who are victims and survivors of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.

On December 11, 2020, KCSDV hosted National Director of Training and Technical Assistance of the Victim Rights Law Center Jessie Mindlin, Esq. Mindlin presented the training “Trauma-Informed and Survivor-Centered Legal Intakes: What Lawyers Need to Know to Serve Sexual Violence Survivors.”

Pictured is the Victim Rights Law Center logo and National Director of Training and Technical Assistance Jessica Mindlin, Esq. The images are courtesy of the Victim Rights Law Center.

Mindlin discussed five core principles of a trauma-informed legal intake, provided tips to help build rapport with a sexual violence survivor client, reviewed grounding techniques, and explored ideas on how to collaborate with survivors while working together to identify their legal needs and effective strategies to support their healing and recovery. Over 35 attorneys, including LAV Network Attorneys and Kansas Legal Services attorneys, as well as many KCSDV coalition member program staff attended.

The project is also distributing the quarterly LAV Project Newsletter to the attorney network. The newsletter focuses on the importance of being victim-centered and trauma-informed as well as providing a deeper understanding of what is meant by “sexual violence.”

Sexual violence encompasses sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other sexual violations. The impacts of sexual violence for a survivor can result in emotional, physical, and legal needs in the aftermath of the violence the survivor experienced. These effects can have life-long impacts and an appropriate response can be critical to helping reduce these negative impacts.

As part of the LAV Project, survivors who need legal assistance are matched with attorneys, depending on the survivor’s needs. The survivor might need legal representation in the areas of employment, housing, finances, or education. Survivors might need help with protection order hearings. Survivors might face confidentiality and privacy rights issues that impact their safety and security.

Survivors apply to the LAV Project with their local direct victim services program victim advocate. Victim advocates working with a survivor completing an application can submit the application to KCSDV’s LAV Project staff. If the application is approved, KCSDV’s LAV Project staff contacts the survivor with the name of an attorney to schedule a legal consultation. The survivor and the attorney then decide whether to move forward with the survivor’s case.

Questions about the project can be directed to KCSDV . Additional resources may be available even if the survivor’s case might not qualify for the legal representation available through the LAV Project.

If you are an attorney or know of an attorney who is interested in representing victims of sexual violence and joining the project’s LAV Attorney Network, please contact KCSDV’s LAV Project staff at LAV@kcsdv.org to learn more about the scope of the project and how you can help.

The LAV Project is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women for programs authorized by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Learn more about KCSDV’s work in legal assistance for victims via the KCSDV website at https://www.kcsdv.org/what-we-do/legal-assistance/.

Newsletter (PDF)   |    On the KCSDV Website

This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-MU-AX-0021 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

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