Break the Cycle – Legal Options

Dating and domestic violence involve power and control. An abuser uses physical
violence, threats, sexual abuse, intimidation and manipulation to exert power and
control over a victim’s actions and emotions. Break the Cycle’s legal services
program is designed to help clients who have been victimized and controlled by
abuse regain power and control over their lives. The program provides legal
advice, counsel and representation to young people trying to escape from abuse.
All legal services are provided free of charge.

Break the Cycle’s legal services are designed to empower clients by informing
them of their options, helping them to decide what course of action is best for
them, and then guiding and supporting them through that process. The goal is to
make clients’ experience of freeing themselves from abuse an empowering one which
restores their confidence.

The program serves young people in Los Angeles County who are between the ages of
12 and 22. Clients come from all different racial, cultural and socioeconomic
backgrounds. They are in middle and high schools, colleges and the workforce.
They are pregnant and parenting teens. They are young men and young women. They
are experiencing abuse in heterosexual and homosexual dating relationships and in
marriages, as well as from parents or other relatives.

What Break the Cycle’s Legal Services Program Does

  • Staff attorneys assist clients in filing for and obtaining temporary
    restraining orders and provide full representation to clients at hearings for
    permanent restraining orders and in related family law court proceedings.
  • Staff attorneys provide post-hearing advocacy
    tailored to the individual needs of each client, such as speaking to a client’s
    school or employer about their responsibilities in enforcing a restraining
    order, or helping a client connect with other agencies for needed support
  • Staff and volunteer attorneys and interns perform research on issues
    affecting the lives, rights, and safety of clients.
  • Through the “Barter Program”, clients give back to Break the
    Cycle and the community we serve in the form of volunteer hours, speaking out to
    the media or community, writing for Break the Cycle’s newsletter, or any other
    means that matches with their skills, interests and comfort level.
  • Break the
    Cycle serves as a resource center, providing information to people who wish to
    learn more about dating and domestic violence and the law or who seek referrals
    to shelters, support groups or other agencies.

Accomplishments and Impact

  • Staff attorneys advise, counsel and/or represent hundreds of young people each
    year, assisting them to escape abusive relationships or homes.
  • Staff attorneys advise, counsel and train hundreds of concerned parents, teachers,
    counselors, social services providers and attorneys about dating and domestic
    violence and the law.
  • Break the Cycle clients gain confidence and self-esteem
    by seeing the value and impact of their giving back to the organization and
    community. This helps to reinforce and remind them that they deserve lives and futures free
    from violence.