Monica Graham-Clark (pictured) has held a handful of roles at Legal Aid over her 24 year tenure, but she currently works with our Health Law Unit as an outreach paralegal, and part-time as a domestic violence victims navigator in our Decatur office.
Often when our clients come to us — especially our domestic violence clients — they are in a state of crisis. Our lawyers can help get protective orders, divorces, and address custody issues. But often domestic violence survivors need the basics — safe shelter, food, daycare, and assistance finding jobs and building financial security. That’s where advocates like Monica come in. She helps survivors find the resources they need, when they don’t have the bandwidth to search for themselves.
Because of what our clients are going through, some people just want to know where to start. Taking that first step is sometimes insurmountable. But if they can get the legal matter handled and those components taken care of, then they just need somebody pointing them in the right direction [for resources]. And that, 9 times out of 10, is what the clients are grateful for. After they’ve dealt with so much, it’s empowering having that control to direct their own path.
Monica’s background is in social work, and she says this comes in handy when she works with Legal Aid’s clients. She says, “Oftentimes, you come at it from a different perspective with the client, and I think they notice that — the fact that you are person-centered, and not so much looking at their legal matters, but trying to find resources that can help a client get their life back on track. It’s a good feeling for me.”
In survival mode, it can be hard to even know what resources you need. Monica helps with that. She provides a list of things they might need, so that her clients know everything available to them. Recently, one of Monica’s clients realized in their consultation that she’d like to get counseling, to start recovering from the abuse she suffered. Monica collected all of the client’s parameters to work around — avoiding working hours, and being flexible around her childcare needs. She didn’t have much free time to work with. But Monica was able to find some local and virtual options, so that she didn’t have to worry about childcare or travel. Monica calls this a “small victory”, and is always glad to help in whatever way she can.
If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, there is help. Some helpful resources are below:
- In Georgia, you can find a domestic violence center in your county on the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence website at GCADV.org.
- You can call their 24-hour statewide hotline at 1-800-334-2836 to talk to a domestic violence advocate. (If you are unsure whether you are experiencing abuse, advocates are available to discuss your situation.)
- You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Advocates there are available to talk 24/7 on the phone at 1-800-799-7233 or online at thehotline.org.
- Find more information about your rights and resources on GeorgiaVictimNetwork.org.
Want to learn more about how a lawyer/legal advocate can help stop domestic violence? Visit atlantalegalaid.org/a-lawyer-may-be-the-best-way-to-stop-domestic-violence/