Scottsdale Court pilot program offers safety, options to domestic violence victims

Understanding the complicated cycle of domestic violence and the challenges facing victims trying to flee abusive relationships, the Scottsdale City Court and Chrysalis have teamed together to make getting an order of protection more accessible. 

The pilot program, beginning today, will allow victims housed at Chrysalis’ emergency shelter to obtain protective orders using FaceTime from the safety of the shelter.

“It’s a unique model provided within our four walls,” says Chrysalis President and CEO Patricia Klahr, who noted that safety concerns are common. 

“An advocate is right there. It gives an opportunity to go through the process without the additional trauma a court appearance sometimes brings,” she adds. “And more importantly, it gives choices to victims because they understand their situation better than anyone else."

It’s also fast. The ability to appear before a judge within hours, using FaceTime from the shelter, makes it possible to get an order of protection quickly. 

Leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence, and it’s common for an abuser to become even more angry, violent and hostile after they become aware that their victim has filed for legal protection. In addition to fear and other emotional trauma, sometimes a victim’s physical injuries or lack of transportation make it difficult to appear in court – all factors leading Scottsdale City Court staff to think outside the box and consider a new use of technology to assist this vulnerable population.

The court currently averages approximately 900 protective order filings per year.

“Our judges and court staff are committed to programs that provide better access to the court,” says Scottsdale Associate City Judge Statia Hendrix. “With the assistance of our community partner, this pilot creates a safe and supportive alternative for victims who petition the court for a protective order.”

Klahr agrees, noting that when one in four women and one in seven men experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, “the stakes are high.”

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