The Legal Advocacy Department helps domestic violence (DV) survivors access relief from the court system by providing information and resources, accompaniment, and ongoing support.
The Legal Advocacy Department helps DV survivors navigate the legal system as they seek relief from domestic violence. The non-attorney Legal Advocates in this department provide a range of assistance, including:
- Information about legal options
- Safety planning
- Crisis intervention
- Court accompaniment
- Ongoing support
Legal advocacy services are completely voluntary, confidential, and free. A survivor can call as much or as little as they need.
How Legal Advocacy Benefits DV Survivors
Note that the Legal Advocates are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice.
Listening to Survivors
Advocates help clients have their voice be heard throughout the legal process. Survivors may find it empowering to discuss their needs with a Legal Advocate and to remain in control while the advocate provides support and discusses the ways they can accomplish their goals in the system.
Assisting With Police and Prosecutors
Legal Advocates can assist DV survivors during criminal proceedings (situations in which police have been involved or arrests made). The Legal Advocates may appear at preliminary hearings or trials to support survivors appearing there as victim witnesses, connect survivors with their district attorney or officer, and support survivors as they face their abusers in the courtroom and explain to a judge what happened to them.
The Legal Advocates are also available to explain the steps of the criminal justice process and notify survivors of their victims’ rights. Crisis counseling and safety planning are also provided.
Petitioning for Protection from Abuse (PFA)
Legal Advocates can also assist with civil Protection from Abuse (PFA) proceedings. They are available to assist survivors in completing petitions for PFA orders and to guide them in safety planning.
They can assist with referrals for free legal representation for final PFA hearings, and provide legal options and information for related criminal matters.
Advocating Within the Justice System
In addition to assisting individual survivors through these proceedings, Legal Advocates also serve on many projects and committees to improve the justice system’s response to domestic violence, so that safety is increased for all survivors and their children.
How to Contact the Legal Advocacy Department
Legal Advocacy is available to all survivors of domestic violence or intimate partner violence.
Several means are available to get Legal Advocacy support:
- Contact the WC&S Hotline
- Call the Legal Advocacy Department at 412-355-7400 x5
- Request a WC&S Legal Advocate at the PFA Unit in Family Court
- Meet a WC&S Legal Advocate at Pittsburgh Municipal Court during domestic violence sessions for criminal preliminary hearings (held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons)
Related Healing and Supportive Services
- Hotline Services
- Emergency Shelter
- Individual Therapy
- Civil Law Project
- CYF-IPV Specialists