Guest Author - Dountonia S. Slack
The courtrooms are crammed with cases of perpetrators of abuse pretending to be the victim of abuse; false allegations of violations of No Contact Orders; people using social service agencies to report false claims of abuse/neglect of children; and parents who never exercised parenting time who suddenly discover how effectively a well-funded custody dispute can destroy the other parent. NOT GUILTY! Courtroom Advocates is an organization that is dedicated to fighting instances of legal system abuse such as these.
Legal system abuse is intentionally using the court system as an instrument of abuse in order to oppress another. This manipulation is done to maintain power and control over domestic violence victims, to seek vengeance, and/or to ruin another’s reputation in order to gain the upper hand in legal proceedings.
“Many abusers see the legal system as another opportunity for manipulation. The better that you and anyone attempting to help you understand the abuser's tricks for turning the legal process to his advantage, the better you can pressure the system to hold him accountable,” quotes Janice Brown, a volunteer of the organization, as she reads an excerpt from Lundy Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men which is prominently displayed on the organization’s brochure.
The core of Not Guilty’s program is courtroom advocacy. However, there are services that surround this core that a judge may consider when making a decision regarding the best interests of a child and/or the stability of a litigant. These services include Emergency Housing, Life Skills Development, Biblical Counseling, and Transportation. All services are free; however, active participation in one’s case plan and learning to serve others is all that is required.
Holding back tears, Sade Dumas, a former client said, “When a lady I trusted to become the guardian of my daughter until I got my life together would not give me my baby back, I was devastated. I didn’t know where to turn or what to do. She took advantage of me. No lawyer would take my case, but I had no money for a lawyer anyway. Not Guilty helped me find a job, an apartment, and taught me how to research my case, represent myself in court and I won!” Dumas is now a volunteer with the organization.
“Victims of legal system abuse can survive the judicial system. The keys to success are education regarding the process and establishing a stable, independent home life,” says a passionate advocate Kimberly Wilson. The mission of the organization is to fight legal system abuse by teaching women to navigate the judicial system with Christ as the compass. Not Guilty is concerned for the whole person; thus, their services are designed with wholeness through Christ in mind.
“Our compass is different, but the journey is familiar,” claims Director of Housing, Terrell Sarver, “As a result, our clients are able to stand before a judge or jury, confidently and competently, knowing that they are prepared for court, able to clearly communicate the truth and are able to provide a stable, nurturing home for their children.”
If you or someone you know is in the middle of a court case and do not know where to turn, contact NOT GUILTY! Courtroom Advocates at 877-591-1104, follow them on Twitter @NotGuilty2008, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.