Changes To CILS Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Legal Services During COVID

By Susan Dalati, CILS Escondido office Staff Attorney

The CILS Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault (“DV/SA”) Legal Advocacy Program is housed CILS’ Escondido office and is comprised of an attorney and legal advocate. Due to the pandemic, the DV/SA Program staff began providing virtual legal services in March 2020. To date, their services are still being provided virtually. The transition to virtual services has been challenging, but the DV/SA legal staff has met the challenges by assessing their clients’ needs and making changes to accommodate those needs.

One of the significant changes was that DV/SA community providers started to meet more frequently to communicate their current status regarding services and sharing their available resources. The North County Domestic Violence Coalition (currently chaired by the CILS DV Staff Attorney and well attended) started meeting virtually every other week. (They have gone back to monthly meetings). During the pandemic, a new virtual meeting group of providers was formed headed by Keely Linton, the Executive Director of Strong Hearted Native Women’s Coalition, and comprised of local Tribal community partners. This meeting occurs every week and is still happening.  The meeting has been tremendously helpful in allowing partners to keep in touch, share resources, and expeditiously coordinate client services when needed. The DV/SA Legal Staff feels that this meeting has fostered strong bonds with the Tribal community partners.

The DV/SA Legal Staff found that it sometimes seems to take a bit longer to build trust with a new client because client meetings are being conducted virtually. The DV/SA Legal Staff try to make sure the client is comfortable with them before dispensing legal advice. During the pandemic, the DV/SA Legal Staff has had former clients return to them for services. Some of the issues that have arisen for returning clients include; a marked increase in abuse by their perpetrators, custody and visitation issues related to the pandemic, challenges with maintaining sobriety and mental health, etc. The legal advocate and attorney have worked together since the beginning of the CILS’s first DV/SA grant in 2015. They have always encouraged former clients to return for services if new issues arise or prior issues re-emerge.

The DV/SA Legal Staff is currently taking new client referrals. They assist survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and sex trafficking. All of their services are cost-free, and there are no income guidelines. They primarily serve San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties, but they can also give out general information and referrals for other counties. Potential clients can reach out to the legal advocate at (760) 746-8941 extension 106. Please leave a message along with a safe phone number, and your call will be returned. Below please find a list of additional DV/SA resources.

RELATED LINKS

Avellaka “Safety for Native Women” Program Office: 1 (760) 742-8628

Cahuilla Consortium: www.cahuillaconsortium.org 24/7 Helpline: 1 (951) 330-0479 Office: 1 (951) 763-5547 Advocacy email: info@cahuillaconsortium.org

Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advocacy 24/7 Office: 1 (760) 765-8897

Indian Health Council’s “Peace Between Partners” Program: www.indianhealth.com  Advocate and Therapist: 1 (760) 749-1410 ext. 5249

San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians Native Women’s Resource Program: www.sanpasqualbandofmissionindians.org  Office: 1 (760) 651-5171

Southern Indian Health Council’s REVIVE Program: http://sihc.org  Office: 1 (619) 445-1188 ext. 200

Strong Hearted Native Women’s Coalition, Inc.: http://strongheartednativewomen.org Office: 1 (760) 644-4781

StrongHearts Native Helpline: http://strongheartshelpline.org  Helpline: 1 (844) 762-8483

Non-Native American Specific Resources:

California Courts Self Help: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-domesticviolence.htm

National Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence: http://www.ncdsv.org

National Domestic Violence Hotline: www.ndvh.org  or https://www.thehotline.org   Helpline: 1 (800) 799-7233 (SAFE)

National Human Trafficking Hotline www.humantraffickinghotline.org 1 (888) 373-7888 (TTY: 711) *Text 233733

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255 (TALK)

Rape Abuse Incest National Network: www.rainn.org 1 (800) 656-4673 (HOPE)