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Domestic Violence Victims, Advocates Report Breakdowns In Stay-Away Order Processing During Pandemic

One woman who spoke to The Lens said that after her husband was charged with domestic abuse battery, he was issued a protective order. But when she tried to report him for violating it, the police had no record of the order.
The Lens
One woman who spoke to The Lens said that after her husband was charged with domestic abuse battery, he was issued a protective order. But when she tried to report him for violating it, the police had no record of the order.

As experts warn of a risk of increased domestic violence rates during the pandemic, attorneys and advocates in New Orleans say that survivors of domestic violence, abuse, and stalking have faced new barriers to protection caused by miscommunications within the court system.

Hannah Groedel, an attorney with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services — a group that provides free legal aid to low-income people — told The Lens that during Gov. John Bel Edwards’ stay-at-home order, her clients weren’t receiving copies of their protective orders, and those orders weren’t available in a statewide database relied upon by law enforcement.

“It used to just be rote procedure,” she said. “You would go to the courthouse, file a petition, it would automatically get scanned in and sent to the registry, and law enforcement could pull it up and enforce it.”

But according to Groedel and other advocates, COVID-19 has created gaps in the administration of that “rote procedure.” Those gaps have created uncertainty for survivors of domestic violence.

Read more on The Lens.

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Philip Kiefer