New Hampshire Legal Assistance has long helped survivors of domestic violence navigate the legal system, including obtaining restraining orders, child support, and parenting plans when someone cannot afford an attorney. The agency says a new grant will allow it to expand that work to ensure victims also get medical and behavioral health services.
The three-year, $600,000 grant from the U.S. Justice Department was one of 59 awarded, NHLA said in a statement Thursday. The organization will partner with WISE in the Upper Valley, which helps people impacted by domestic violence, sexual violence, and stalking with emergency services and advocacy.
In announcing the funding, NHLA cited findings from the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health showing that victims and survivors of domestic violence are at greater risk for experiencing mental health and substance use conditions as a result of trauma.
In an email statement, NHLA Executive Director Sarah Mattson Dustin said abusers may use the survivor’s mental health challenges against them by preventing them from accessing treatment or making it an issue in child custody and other legal decisions.
NHLA developed the initiative based on input from the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and other advocacy centers about the most significant challenges facing survivors in New Hampshire.