Even though the courts have been operating on a more limited basis, Sarah’s Voice, Shalom Task Force’s legal department, has been busy ensuring their clients and all victims of domestic violence within our community are safe during the current pandemic.
During the two-part webinar series “Shelter in Place” (recordings available at ShalomTaskForce.org/ covid-19-resources), Erin Bistricer, Esq., senior staff attorney for Sarah’s Voice, and Rachel Marks, Esq., attorney for Schonfeld & Goldring, LLP and vice president, Shalom Task Force, educated the community on how COVID-19 has affected the courts, order of protection, custody and visitation arrangements, and support. As questions came flooding in, the legal team realized they need to find a safe way for victims to contact them while they are quarantined with their abusers.
Sarah’s Voice offers email and text options for victims to safely reach out. They can be emailed at email@example.com or call/text 347-592-2124. One will be individually connected to a trained victim-advocate. The advocate cannot provide legal advice but can answer basic questions, complete safety planning, and schedule a safe time for you to speak with an attorney from the project. A victim-advocate is available to respond within 24 hours during business hours, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Sarah’s Voice services are based on New York State law, and resources and are free of charge. Sarah’s Voice provides legal representation and advice on issues of Orders of Protection, divorce, custody, visitation, and support, immigration, and in some cases provides services, such as help preparing court documents.
Sarah’s Voice’s email and phone/text line are confidential and protected by attorney–client privilege. Please indicate a safe way for them to respond to you, either through text, voicemail, or email, otherwise they will not know how to respond to your inquiry.
Safety Alert: If the person causing harm becomes aware that you are seeking legal support, they may escalate their abusive behavior. Be aware that computers and phones can be monitored, often in undetectable ways.
If the party causing harm knows your passwords, consider another way of reaching out. If your phone is hot to the touch or it dies quickly when you are not using it, that might mean someone else is running applications that access it. If there are any applications on your device that you did not install yourself, that is another indication that someone else is accessing your device.
If you are afraid that your technology might be monitored, consider accessing https://techsafetyapp.org/ from a secure device to review tech safety steps. Note that the tech safety app does not replace individualized safety planning.