Online Legal Help-Seeking for Victims of Intimate Partner Violence During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Christina S. Walker (Esq., J.D., University of Kentucky) is a licensed attorney and doctoral (Ph.D.) student in the College of Communication and Information, University of Kentucky. Her work focuses on issues at the intersection of communication, law/justice, and culture. Throughout her career in government, law and policy, and higher education, she has analyzed legal compliance, regulation, and policy while advising on best practices in consideration of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In 2020, she provided over 70 hours of pro bono representation solely to womxn+ experiencing financial hardship, including representation in probate law, real estate law, contracts, constitutional law, and torts. She regularly researches issues that disproportionately affect minority womxn+ individuals, with her most recent work focusing on sexual harassment policies, stereotypes surrounding intimate partner violence related to race and same-sex couples; sex discrimination in social media policies, and governance of “Afro-hair.” In addition, she is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Communication at Eastern Kentucky University where she teaches Human Communication while focusing on intercultural and interpersonal communication and public speaking.
Legal, court, and criminal justice professionals regularly navigate court procedures and processes through online portals. They know where to locate applicable court rules, such as a specific section on a court website or a departmental contact. However, these tasks can be extremely daunting for laypersons seeking court assistance, especially for victims of violence who have limited time away from the abuser. To determine how state judicial branches make information available about protective order procedures and general information to a layperson, especially to victims of intimate partner violence, this study assessed court websites of five states where intimate partner violence (IPV) increased by 20 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the study assessed how protective order procedures were communicated and evaluated the accessibility of new or amended information on protective order procedures in response to COVID-19. The author found that online communication was appropriate only for professional audiences and lacked accommodations for non-English speaking and disabled victims. The placement of online content was not suitable for laypersons. The implications of these ineffective communicative strategies and their effect on legal help-seeking for layperson victims are discussed.
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Walker, Christina S. (2022) "Online Legal Help-Seeking for Victims of Intimate Partner Violence During the COVID-19 Pandemic," Dignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence: Vol. 7: Iss. 2, Article 6. https://doi.org/10.23860/dignity.2022.07.02.06
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