NHLA provides civil legal aid to support and advocate for victims of a variety of crimes.
NHLA is committed to increasing access to civil legal services for victims of crime who are immigrants, refugees, and/or have limited-English proficiency, as well as members of the LGBTQ community.
The Domestic Violence Advocacy Project (DVAP) represents victims and survivors of domestic abuse in domestic violence protective order hearings, and divorce and parenting (custody) cases. We help low income victim/survivors who cannot afford to pay a lawyer. Our attorneys are trained to address the unique issues that victim/survivors face in family law cases.
NHLA partners with the Strafford County Family Justice Center and the Manchester Family Justice Center to provide representation to victims of domestic violence. These family justice centers are the products of successful partnerships of social service providers offering holistic services to domestic violence victims in one location. NHLA advocates provide on-site legal screening and offers advice and counsel to crisis center clients experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault and/or stalking.
There are many ways we can help survivors of domestic violence, including:
- Representation at final domestic violence protective order hearings
- Providing limited or full representation in divorce cases
- Providing limited or full representation in parenting (custody) cases
- Providing help with other legal problems such as housing or public benefits
If you need legal help in any of these circumstances, please contact your local domestic violence crisis center for a referral.
One in 4 women and one in 20 men in New Hampshire have been sexual assaulted. NHLA’s DVAP advocates are trained specifically in trauma-informed practices to meet the unique needs of sexual assault survivors. DVAP represents victims and survivors of sexual assault in domestic violence protective order hearings, and divorce and parenting (custody) cases.
Victims/Survivors of sexual assault may receive a protective order if:
- The offender was a current or former intimate partner
- The offender was a family or household member
NHLA partners with organizations around the state, including the Strafford County Family Justice Center, the Manchester Family Justice Center, and many crisis centers throughout New Hampshire. NHLA advocates provide on-site legal screening and offers advice and counsel to crisis center clients who are victims/survivors of sexual assault.
NHLA’s DVAP also represents victims of stalking in stalking protective order cases as well as in divorce and parenting (custody) cases.
NHLA has specific grant funding that assists victims of human trafficking with Civil Legal Assessments or “check-ups.” These check-ups run through a victim/survivor’s current situation and assesses their need for legal services, considers outside resources for the individual’s need, and may assist in completing an intake for one of NHLA’s project areas.
NHLA offers legal assistance to seniors (persons age 60 or older) through the Justice in Aging Project. The Project assists economically and needy seniors with civil legal problems including:
- Abusive or illegal debt collection
- Financial Exploitation
- Access to health care
- Social Security
- Supplemental Security Income
- public and private housing
- Mobile home residents’ rights
- Property tax relief
- food stamps
- utility shut-off
- disputes with nursing facilities and assisted living/residential care facilities
Justice in Aging legal services include legal advice, brief services and extended representation by attorneys and trained paralegals. The Justice in Aging Project also engages in outreach to increase awareness of the legal rights of seniors and to ensure that the community is aware of our services by means of presentations, pamphlets, and other written materials.
If you are a New Hampshire resident age 60 or older and need help with a civil legal problem, contact NHLA's Justice in Aging Project by phone at 1-888-353-9944. The Justice in Aging has the capacity to serve elders who are housebound, isolated or institutionalized.
The grant, from the Legal Assistance for Victims program of the federal Office of Violence Against Women will help NHLA provide services to victims at the Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) and Crisis Center of Central New Hampshire (CCCNH), with specific emphasis on helping survivors who come from immigrant and refugee communities.
NHLA helps young woman end an abusive relationship
With nowhere to go when her parents kicked her out of their home, Kendra moved in with her longtime friend, Ritchie. They soon began an intimate relationship. Kendra’s stepmother didn’t approve of the relationship, and cut off communication with her entirely.
It wasn’t long before Ritchie became mentally and physically abusive to Kendra, including choking her, pinning her down with his knee, and slapping her. He also demanded access to her bank account.
Kendra, who has intellectual limitations, said she has experienced abuse before.
“However, I could tell what Ritchie was doing to me wasn’t a sign of love,” she said.
Kendra filed a Domestic Violence petition and NHLA attorney Ruth Heintz represented her at the final hearing.
“Even though I only met Ruth that one time, it was a really great experience,” Kendra said. “I don’t think I would have gotten the restraining order on my own without her helping me.”
Two weeks later, the judge issued the domestic violence final protective order, and Kendra finally had a clean break from her mentally and physically abusive relationship. She also received approval to keep her emotional support cat and for Ritchie to be removed from her bank account and to return the key to her storage unit.
Kendra is relieved that Ritchie is now lawfully prohibited from contacting her or going near her. Getting him off her bank account and removing his access to her storage unit were further assurances he would no longer have any presence in her life.
“I feel much safer, and I’m starting to rebuild some of the bridges I burnt,” said Kendra. “Now that he is out of the picture, I have a better connection with everyone in my life. I’m in a really good place right now.”
Holistic domestic violence advocacy in action: Help for an undocumented domestic violence victim
Kimberly came to the United States on a work trip. She became intimately involved with a United States citizen, John, who convinced her to stay, promising to marry her and help her apply for immigration status. John did marry Kimberly, but instead of helping her with the immigration process, he used her lack of status against her.
Within a month of the marriage, John began beating and sexually assaulting Kimberly. He told her it was legal for him to beat her as long as he did it within their home. The violence continued to escalate until Kimberly fled the home to stay with a friend, who brought her to a Family Justice Center.
When Kimberly came to the Family Justice Center, she had recently been strangled by John and was suffering from an untreated sexually transmitted infection resulting from the sexual abuse. She was afraid to seek any protection because John had told her she would be deported if she did.
NHLA represented Kimberly in a domestic violence case, helping her to obtain a final domestic violence protective order. NHLA also referred Kimberly to Catholic Charities for assistance with her immigration case. The Family Justice Center ensured that Kimberly’s health needs were met, connecting her to a community health center for medical treatment and mental health counseling.
Kimberly is doing much better now, and recently stopped by the Family Justice Center. She told a staff member that she believes the Family Justice Center saved her life.
NHLA receives support from the following organizations to fund our Domestic Violence Advocacy Project:
Campaign for Legal Services
IOLTA program of New Hampshire Bar Foundation
NH Department of Justice
US Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women