Sarah Patrice Loeffler
Name of Host Organization: Montgomery County Women's Center
City, State: Conroe, Texas
Issue area: Domestic Violence
Sponsors: Texas Access to Justice Foundation, The John M. O'Quinn Foundation
Sarah provided permanent legal solutions to domestic violence victims in Montgomery County, Texas, through direct representation, public education, and development of a robust pro bono program.
Need Addressed By Project
The absence of permanent legal solutions traps many domestic violence victims in horrific situations. Domestic violence has increased by more than 50 percent in Montgomery County since 2007. The need for family legal services among domestic violence victims has increased with the county’s rising low-income population. The Montgomery County Women’s Center (MCWC) and Lone Star Legal Aid help secure protective orders for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Limited resources, however, prevent the agencies from prioritizing divorce and custody suits for these victims. Texas has a high standard for obtaining protective orders against abusers, which historically has resulted in the courts requiring a pattern of severe abuse over a span of many years for protective order approval. Achieving permanent legal solutions before abuse becomes perpetual protects victims and helps them escape their abuser.