THE PROBLEM – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND NEED FOR ADAAA PROTECTION
By Dr. Karin Huffer
From an anonymous victim in a shelter involved in court
When anyone says the words “domestic violence’, I question if their reality matches mine. Was their abuser worse, stronger, louder? I’m sure we all think our situation was..was..the most violent. Being the brunt of his terror was the price I paid to protect my children from most of his direct physical attacks. The alcohol fueled verbal ranting, yelling…calling out our names as he charged down the hall…, we knew he was coming to find us to smack and punch at will. We, my kids and I, are out of that house…no longer at the end of the hall. Our physical scars, a broken nose for me and my daughter, both my arms are deformed, my skin bears scars mostly on my face, back, and legs. My daughter’s broken nose has been straighten, but mine, mine is my badge that proves I’m a survivor…of what some must wonder. We hide, my children and I. We hide. We must look like rats skittering in the shadows of block walls and closed store fronts.
We want to be free of the monster…my sweetheart, daddy. None of us wants him in our lives. I’m in court almost monthly answering filings and being subjected to psychological evaluations, me, not him, me! I know I’ve hardened as I can’t cry anymore. Tears are gone, a luxury of when I actually had feelings to hurt, the past. Rage, red hot, is the new me. I’m being attacked by the court now. I relive the terror of the violence we endured and then I am attacked again by the lawyers and guardian ad litem that pick and pick like vultures at my scars. I rage at them and at the imperfect justice system I was so sure would…see…they would see the truth. If I don’t’ get help, real help, I’m going to lose the kids to him…the monster.
I NEED TO IMPACT THE COURT TO PROTECT ME AND THE CHILDREN
Strangely, when Congress enacted the ADAAA in 2008, and now with the new regulations of October 2016, they did not envision the impact it would have on cases of abuse. No abuse occurs like that described above without creating diagnosable trauma. While the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act or ADAAA does not include domestic violence it does cover the resulting traumatic injuries, mental or physical. Because there is bias regarding disability in this nation and lack of training in the ADAAA and its updates, it is not used as intended to protect victims of violence. They fear and say,
Disabled? Who me? My mental or physical disability splayed before ‘the monster’ and his blanking henchmen lawyers? That will ruin everything—I can’t look weak period I must prove that I can care for the kids. My counsel agrees that using the ADAAA is a poor idea.
As survivors wash up on the shore of the courthouses so sure of the life raft and safety they seek, they are finding real relief in the ADAAA from the compounding abusive tactics of the adversarial system. Most of us have no idea what goes on in a courtroom. With the use of the ADAAA to gain accommodations, the whole atmosphere and legal case can be turned around for you. Contrary to revealing a weakness, the filing for accommodations is protected by the ADAAA itself and HIPAA. It is not revealed to the court, only that you now have A Certified ADA Advocate by your side at all times. monitoring your physical and mental state, able to request a short break. Shielding you from the penetrating eyes of the monster and his gang. Accommodations, with or without representation, are in place to safeguard a disabled person as would any hearing device, seeing device, or ramp would do for others. Taking advantage of the ADAAA provides protection against bias, puts an umbrella of protection over legal proceedings prohibiting bullying and exploitation of the victim, and monitors conditions ensuring that the victim has equal access and opportunity to function to defend and protect themselves in the courtroom.
To learn more about how you can help by becoming a Certified ADA Advocate, visit www.EqualAccessAdvocates.com/JohnJay.
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