New York City
March 2003

Justice for All Women
by Catherine Douglas

Since 1993, inMotion has helped thousands of women free themselves from abusive relationships, hold onto their homes and win the financial support that they—and their children —are legally entitled to.

In our first year, with a staff of two, we set out to enlist lawyers from corporate law firms to represent unfamiliar clients—low-income women with legal matters that differed from these lawyers’ work for major institutional clients. Today, we have a bilingual Spanish/English staff of 16 in offices in Manhattan and the Bronx, who coordinate more than a thousand volunteer lawyers who represent at no charge women who need matrimonial, family and immigration law assistance.

We also support women by informing them about their legal options and coaching them to seek what they need in court on their own, when they don’t have lawyers. InMotion reaches out to women in immigrant communities, not fluent in English and unfamiliar with American laws.

Today, we know a lot more about the complicated, confusing and under-resourced systems our clients must navigate than we did in 1993.

What has changed in the world in the past ten years? There is a broader awareness of the terrible toll that domestic violence exacts—from its victims most directly and from society as a whole. Educators, employers and health care professionals have devoted escalating resources to prevention of abuse. Judges, court personnel and the police have designed new strategies to help keep families safe in their homes and stopping the violence. Nevertheless, domestic violence is still the overriding reason that women seek our help.

What has not changed since 1993? There are still too few lawyers for battered women who cannot afford one when they need to get a divorce, to petition the INS for legal residency or to seek custody and child support from their abusers. Our courts still struggle with too few judges and minimal resources to assist families in crisis. Government funding of civil legal services for the poor is as precarious as ever. Now, just as it was a decade ago, accomplishing our mission is critical. As we move into the next decade, we are more than ever determined to reach our destination—justice for all women.#

Catherine Douglas is the Executive Director of inMotion.

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