Most efforts to aid victims of domestic violence usually come into play long after the initial abuse has happened and the victim has no options left. The Avon Program for Women and Justice at the O’Connor House is working to change this pattern.
Lucia Howard, the founding co-chair of the program, works with law enforcement, attorneys and members of the community to change the options for domestic violence victims.
Howard said that “Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is very committed to a lot of women’s causes and she brought up focusing on domestic violence.” Domestic violence incidents are the greater portion of 911 calls that police respond to, but there is very little effort in curbing the domestic violence in the area.
The Avon Foundation recently gave $100,000 to fund domestic violence projects in Arizona. The program was established in 2009 with a $250,000 grant by Avon to not only raise awareness, but to improve systems dealing with issues of justice and equality for women. The new funds will be used to streamline the protective-order process, train volunteer lawyers and victim advocates, and also to conduct a public-awareness campaign called “Speak Out Against Domestic Violence.”
Apache Junction Police Chief Jerald Monahan heads the program’s Order of Protection Task Force, which aims to simplify the process of filing protection orders so the orders can be served quickly. Another aspect the task force is working on is that of communication among law enforcement agencies so information about both victims and abusers can be transferred efficiently.
Family-law attorney DeShon Pullen mentors attorneys undergoing domestic violence training, in order that they can better represent the victims of domestic violence. Pullen stated that these types of cases are trickier than most as “many victims do not want to testify in open court as they feel both ashamed and intimidated.”
Howard said that she has received a lot of positive feedback from both attorneys and law-enforcement personnel, and she is hoping the community will support the cause and hopefully become involved in reducing domestic violence in Arizona.