24 Aug Jane’s Preparation for A Restraining Order Court Hearing During COVID-19
Jane awoke early in the morning, after tossing and turning all night. She felt tired and afraid. If it was any other day, Jane would have simply gone back to bed. But today wasn’t like any other day, today was her court date.
After months of waiting for the family courts to reopen due to COVID-19, she received a letter in the mail stating she had been slated for a court date in two weeks. Upon seeing the letter, she panicked – it had been months since she filed a restraining order and she didn’t know if the court had special new rules or what her court date would look like.
After a few days of panic, Jane received a call from her Legal Advocate at WTLC, Kim. Kim informed her that the courts had started to send out notices for new court dates and inquired if she had received any news.
In that moment, Jane felt a great pressure lifted from her chest and told Kim this that not only was she scared for the court process but for her personal health as well. Kim listened to her concerns and worries, validating Jane’s emotions and thoughts throughout the conversation, and set up an appointment for her to meet in person to prepare for her date in court.
During their meeting, Jane and Kim went over the new court processes and what her court date would look like. Jane asked questions regarding what evidence she needed to submit to the court and Kim connected her with a pro-bono attorney who could review her evidence and aid her in submitting the most relevant pieces of information. Kim then led Jane through an exercise to deescalate her anxiety and safety planned for her court date. After having so much anxiety built up, Jane said it was refreshing to have someone with her on her most important date.
On the day of her court date, after eating breakfast, Jane received a call confirming the time of her court hearing and agreed to meet Kim twenty minutes prior to talk and destress. Upon arriving at court, Jane realized she had forgotten her face mask and gloves. She again started to panic, until she saw Kim. Jane told Kim she forgot a face mask and Kim said not to worry, that she had brought a backup face mask and gloves just for her in case she forgot. This brought a great deal of comfort for her and slowly Jane’s anxiety disappeared.
Jane’s court hearing went smoothly and there was nothing she was surprised by because she had prepared with Kim during their session. Everyone in the court practiced social distancing, and courtrooms were filled with fewer than ten people at any time. Jane advocated for her case and was successfully granted a restraining order. After court, Jane thanked Kim, explaining that the court processes would have been too difficult to navigate if it wasn’t for her help.
Jane shared that she is thankful that she wasn’t alone on her court date and delighted that she received a follow-up call from her advocate Kim without her needing to reach out. Due to the current environment, WTLC realizes that the need for in-depth case management is far more crucial than ever before and that many may not know who to turn to or what exactly to do. While this has always been the standard for our Legal Advocates, WTLC continues to make more of an intentional effort in making sure the survivors in our programs know they are not alone and have a support system they can count on during this challenging and scary time.