The Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF) is dedicated to addressing issues of safety and stability, particularly in the areas of intimate partner abuse and tenants’ rights. Over the past five years, AVLF has taken a place-based approach, aiming to go deeper into the community and provide stronger services. They have developed programs that meet their often-isolated clients where they are, using neighborhood-based offices and mobile advocacy.
AVLF’s new program, Standing with Survivors (SwS), embeds a multi-disciplinary team in the community to provide comprehensive assistance to survivors in need of protection from an abuser. In collaboration with CHRIS 180, the Atlanta Police Department, Men Stopping Violence, and other program partners, SwS operates from a neighborhood-based satellite office and utilizes a “safe haven” van based at their Westside community office for mobile responses. The van serves as a safe and supportive space for advocates, counselors, and survivors to interact, discuss safety plans, and access resources. It is equipped with audio/visual capabilities to facilitate remote judicial hearings, improving survivors’ access to life-saving protection.
“AVLF has made an intentional transition to becoming a place-based organization, and we are committed to the Westside and surrounding neighborhoods,” said Michael Lucas, Executive Director. “Our Standing with Survivors Mobile Response Unit is based on the Westside and will be there for any resident who cannot make it to the Courthouse. We will meet you where you are to help you begin your path to safety. Our team of advocates and attorneys will be there for you.”
To ensure a holistic and trauma-informed approach, AVLF has partnered with Chris180 to dispatch a team of trauma-informed professionals, including mental health counselors experienced in addressing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). These professionals work alongside AVLF’s social workers to address the immediate needs of survivors. AVLF also plans to work more closely with law enforcement and involve Men Stopping Violence to support perpetrators and address intergenerational trauma and violence in the community.
AVLF aims to be more preventative by reaching survivors earlier in the cycle of abuse, strengthening partnerships with law enforcement, and providing swift responses through their rapid-response team. By offering quality legal representation and support during the first reported incident, AVLF hopes to break the cycle of violence and prevent further abuse. The acquisition of the “Safe Haven” van in November 2022 further supports their commitment to being a place-based organization, specifically focused on the Westside and surrounding neighborhoods.
The Standing with Survivors program continues to expand, meeting survivors in various locations such as grocery stores and school parking lots, wherever it is safe for them. If anyone requires assistance or knows someone who does, they can contact AVLF at (404) 612-4324 (not a crisis line), and a member of the AVLF team will return the call and help develop a plan for safety.