27 May With New Court Proceedings Due to COVID-19, John Receives Life-Saving Information and Legal Support
After John ended his relationship of 3 years with his girlfriend, she became verbally abusive and began to monitor his phone calls and his location at all times. John’s girlfriend wouldn’t let him leave the house out of jealousy and on multiple occasions physically assaulted him to prevent him from leaving.
John was not alone in this situation as he found three different restraining orders against his ex-girlfriend from her own family members. When he learned of this news, it filled him with a sense of urgency to secure his own safety and John was referred to WTLC’s Legal Services after contacting our Helpline. WTLC’s Legal Advocates began working to prepare John for an upcoming court hearing he had scheduled to extend the provisions of his Temporary Restraining Order. John was eager to have his case heard, but like many of the survivors we assist, scared of facing the person who had caused him so much harm in court.
Additionally, John became anxious and stressed when he learned of the new court proceedings that were put in place in response to COVID-19. With the understanding that this is an unprecedented time for us all, WTLC’s Legal Services staff began to safety plan with John and provide him with an emergency bag with items needed until his court date. The staff also scheduled a hearing preparation appointment with John and reviewed the latest court proceedings, so John would be fully prepared for the hearing. Because of John’s bravery, and with the Legal Services Team’s assistance, he arrived at court with confidence and emotional support from a Legal Advocate who accompanied him. John was able to have the status of his temporary restraining order changed to a permanent restraining order, allowing him to have greater peace of mind while he continues his journey of healing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, WTLC’s Legal Services Program has been working to remain updated with recent changes to court proceedings and immigration services. Our Legal Advocates have increased our level of case management to ensure our participants are aware of new developments and continue to receive the quality services that place their safety as a paramount priority. As courts begin to reopen, Legal Services staff have taken proactive steps to keep both participants and staff safe, making PPE essentials available as needed during appointments and court accompaniments. On May 18th, the Orange County Family Court officially reopened, allowing participants to again present their case in front of a judge. John was among the first cases to be heard since the court closure.
As the current COVID-19 situation remains fluid, our Legal Services Department have also remained at the forefront of educating immigrant communities of resources available to them at this time, as well as providing referrals to essential community services. One such area of support was disseminating information regarding the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI). The DRAI is a one-time state-funded disaster relief assistance for undocumented adult immigrants impacted by COVID-19. An undocumented adult who qualifies can receive $500 in direct aid, with a maximum of $1000 in support per household. Our Legal Services staff are equipped to inform all participants of this funding and offer assistance in gathering documents needed to receive disaster relief.
If you are interested in legal advocacy support, please contact our Helpline at (877) 531-5522 or email/text [email protected].