For a survivor of domestic violence, obtaining a protective order against an abuser can literally save a life.
Yet many who stay in abusive situations run the risk of encountering their abuser in the very act of getting help. For these individuals, physically going to the courthouse to complete the paperwork poses a daunting challenge.
“Going to court is intimidating,” Leigh Duque, executive director of InterAct, a nonprofit that provides safety, support and awareness to survivors and survivors of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, according to its website.
To counter this difficulty, InterAct is implementing a new electronic filing program that lets survivors submit an application without visiting the courthouse. Instead, they will be able to come to InterAct’s response center.
The center currently offers forensic exams and free, confidential services. With the proposed program, survivors will also be able to fill out applications with the assistance of trained advocates without leaving the safety of the center. They will also have the option to have the case heard before a Wake County judge by video conference.
Right now, the details are still being determined, but Duque says the program is on track to launch in the fall.
“We know that protective orders are effective,” Duque said, but increasing access to them is crucial.
In recognition of this need, the City Council unanimously approved a recommendation to award a $35,000 grant to InterAct. Last Tuesday, at a meeting of the budget and economic development committee, the city allocated a total of $175,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to seven programs. The money was made available to organizations to aid community enhancement.
A review committee composed of representatives from the Community Services Department, the Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness and the community grants management team chose the projects and made recommendations for funding.
These projects ranged from a youth summer employment program at Habitat for Humanity to a housing program for homeless families called “New Lease on Life.”
Non-profits and faith-based organizations were encouraged to apply for the grants on the City of Raleigh’s web site, and the Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness helped to advertise the opportunity.
A call for proposals was issued in early December, and the department received 13 applications. Two were eliminated after an initial review, and four more were rejected for various reasons, including questions of need for the grants and effectiveness of the programs themselves.