A research study shows that legal services, combined with psychological services like counseling therapy, improve the mental health of survivors of domestic violence.
Mosaic Family Services serves over 30,000 people each year through direct services and outreach, our clients include children, women and men, survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and refugees. Our clients often present symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and victimization due to the abuse that they have endured. Our coordinated services—legal, counseling, shelter, education, and advocacy— make a huge difference in our client’s lives. This system of coordinated services has been backed up by a research study published in December 2012 by the Journal of Traumatic Stress. Legal services, combined with psychological services like counseling therapy, can improve the mental health of survivors of domestic violence.
In this study, a group of 147 women living in shelters were interviewed at 6 months post-shelter and asked whether they had a restraining or protective order against their abuser that allowed them to minimize contact. The study showed that PTSD symptoms and incidents of sexual re-victimization decreased from baseline to 6 months post-shelter for women who had a protective order compared to women who did not have a protective order.
The results of the study support the model of offering coordinated services, like legal and counseling services, because it relates to the concept of therapeutic jurisprudence— the study of the effects of law and the legal system on the behavior, emotions, and mental health of people. In other words, women who have a protective order improve their mental health in a more significant way than women without a protective order. It seems that the sense of control and safety that some legal interventions offer can act as a therapeutic agent for survivors of domestic violence. At Mosaic, we are proud to contribute to the ideals of social justice and therapeutic jurisprudence through our coordinated services to women in Dallas.
By Claudia Carballal, staff member