Agency helps women exit abusive situations

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— Without having enough money to hire an attorney, women and children involved in abusive relationships can remain mired in hopeless situations with no way out.

Enter the non-profit group Bringing Justice Home, a Fort Collins-based agency that provides free legal assistance to low-income victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

"It provides women who can't afford an attorney an opportunity to leave bad situations," said Adrienne Roselle, a Bringing Justice Home administrative assistant. "It says to them, 'You don't have to have money : we'll help you and your children get out."

Founded two years ago, Bringing Justice Home serves 40 to 45 indigent clients per year in a five-county area - Moffat, Routt, Jackson, Larimer and Grand counties.

It is affiliated with the Cross Roads Safe House, a Fort Collins shelter for women victims of domestic violence, and a partnering agency with the local group, Advocates-Crisis Support Services.

In the past two years, Bring-ing Home Justice has provided legal services to six Moffat County residents, a number the organization would like to increase in the future.

Pat Tessmer and Karen Aragon, Advocates executive director and volunteer/youth coordinator, respectively, said the agency has been a benefit to their clients.

"It's been a good partnership for us," Tessmer said. "I think it's been really helpful."

"It definitely has," Aragon said. "They have helped us a good deal and our clients here a good deal with everything from answering questions to helping them through court cases.

"We've been extremely imp-ressed."

Bringing Justice Home is trying to reiterate their availability to residents in areas they serve, Roselle said. The organization currently has a three-attorney legal team; the attorneys visit counties they serve when called upon.

"We just want people to know we're here, and we might be able to help," Roselle said.

To qualify for Bringing Justice Home assistance, clients must meet certain criteria, including falling below a designated income level, being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and seeking assistance with a court issue that "we can handle and that issues arises from domestic violence," Roselle said.

Legal issues the agency is equipped to handle are civil protection orders, divorces, legal separations, custody disputes, child/spousal support and legal safety planning.

The agency offers bilingual services as well and is not exclusive to women clients.

Anyone seeking civil legal assistance should call Bringing Justice Home at 224-2966 to discuss the application and eligibility process. Applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine eligibility and program acceptance, Roselle said.

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