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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 services.
  • 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.

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