Day in the Life of a Sistercare Court Advocate – Joni

Joni's Story

“You were a lifeline for me.  I was so scared, and the criminal justice system was completely overwhelming.”  This is a typical statement that Sistercare Court Advocate Joni hears in her day-to-day work with survivors of intimate partner violence who are pursuing relief through the justice system.  The Sistercare Court Advocate position plays a key role in helping survivors of domestic violence navigate the legal system.

Joni begins her day examining survivors’ files and connecting with the individuals to ensure their safety and to follow up on important updates to their individual situations. Most of the survivors have come to her following acts of domestic violence reported to law enforcement and as walk-ins to her office. With all new survivors, Joni calls or meets with them to discuss Sistercare’s no cost court advocacy and support services. Through this outreach, Joni informs survivors about the legal process and available options for safety.  An important way Joni helps is by assisting survivors to obtain legal services and representation.

“I like to tell survivors that knowledge is power,” says Joni. This is indeed a true statement, as most of her workday is spent talking with survivors who have pending family and criminal court cases.

In partnership with the City of Columbia Police Department Victims Services Program, Joni offers support from the beginning to the end of matters involving intimate partner violence. One of the most common situations Joni assists with is helping survivors file for an order of protection. While the process is scary for many, with Joni’s help, survivors receive assistance to correctly complete required documents, are accompanied to court, and receive ongoing emotional support.

The Sistercare Court Advocacy Program empowers those experiencing the trauma of domestic violence with assistance:

  • Filing for an immediate order of protection, which is processed within a 24-hour timeframe
  • Filing for a standard order of protection, processed within 10 – 15 days
  • Filing a police report
  • Navigating the legal system with victims of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd-degree criminal domestic violence
  • Communicating with the Clerk of Court’s and Solicitor’s offices

For more information on the Sistercare Court Advocacy Program, contact our 24 hours, seven days a week crisis line today at (803) 765-9428.


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