News 9: Palomar Free Legal Clinic looks to help Victims of Domestic Violence
By Feliz Romero
Published: August 18, 2022
Some devastating statistics are prompting local organizations to help victims of domestic violence get free legal counsel.
The Palomar Family Justice Center told News 9 49% of women and 40% of men in Oklahoma are likely to be a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence.
They hope their upcoming legal clinic will help get victims out of dangerous situations.
“We are creating access to a system that people really do need representation and advocacy in,” said Emily Charles, a Legal Intern with Palomar Legal Network and a second-year law student at Oklahoma City University School of Law.
“Accessing services that they need gives them hope and then hope allows them to move on with their lives,” said Kelly Masters-Newton, the Palomar Legal Director.
She said their free legal clinics give victims of domestic violence and sexual assault a glimmer of hope during a dark time.
“We have attorneys on site that can give advice regarding all of those issues, it is completely free, and clients are served first come first served,” said Masters-Newton.
Advocates at Palomar said nearly half of Oklahomans experience interpersonal violence. A situation that only gets more complicated when victims are legally bound to their abuser.
“For the state of Oklahoma, that means they are more likely to be a victim of interpersonal violence or sexual assault than they are to graduate college,” said Charles.
During the clinic victims can get help filing a victim protective order, assistance with landlord or tenant issues, and domestic issues.
“While they’re just pieces of paper, without those documents those legal documents and orders they are unable to move on with their lives,” said the Legal Director.
The clinic will also offer bilingual advocates for Spanish speakers. So far this year they have been able to help 80 people during their clinics.
“The best part of the job is seeing a weight lifted off their shoulders when they get advice that they need and they get the help and resources that they haven’t had access to,” said Charles.
Their next clinic will be Friday August 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Palomar Family Justice Center in Oklahoma City.