Through a grant from OVW, North MS Rural Legal Services has another opportunity to take the lead against domestic violence. Historically, as early as 1981, taking leave time and using their personal resources, NMRLS attorneys Meade Burrows and Catherine Kilgore along with paralegal, Mary Sue Gordon sought funds from the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors to establish a shelter for battered wives in Lafayette County, Mississippi. (Oxford Eagle, August 27, 1981) Although the Board declined to fund the proposal, other individuals in the community formed a non-profit and a shelter was procured. Attorney Meade Burrows and others brought attention to this problem in Mississippi; and some of the first legislation against domestic violence in Mississippi was enacted. Thirty-five years later NMRLS continues in the effort to effectively reduce the incidences of domestic violence through advocacy and free legal assistance to victims and survivors.

Under the OVW grant, NMRLS has partnered with two domestic violence shelters in North Mississippi: Our House, Inc. in Greenville, MS and Safe Haven, Inc. in Columbus, MS. They will perform assessments of applicants, provide counseling, prepare safety plans and refer clients to NMRLS’ VAWA unit for legal matters. . NMRLS and our partners are committed to eliminating the scourge of domestic violence in our community through advocacy, outreach and education.

What is the objective of the Legal Assistance for Victims Grant Program?

The Legal Assistance for Victims (LAV) Grant Program is intended to increase the availability of civil legal assistance needed to effectively aid adult and youth victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking who are seeking relief in legal matters relating to or arising out of that abuse or violence, at no cost to the victims.

What services will NMRLS provide to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence?

The legal services that NMRLS will provide victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence through grant funds will include:

  • Obtaining protection orders, providing representation for divorces (when related to safety for victims), custody and/or visitation cases and obtain child support orders;
  • Providing representation for administrative matters such as access to benefits for housing and/or landlord/tenant matters, and for matters related to employment, including unemployment compensation;
  • Providing other legal services that may become necessary to properly and completely represent a victim of domestic violence; and,
  • Develop programs to reach diverse and traditionally underserved populations, including racial, cultural, or ethnic minorities; the disabled; language minorities; or domestic violence victims in rural or inner city areas.

NMRLS’ LAV Hotline: 1-855-216-8731
Our House, Inc. Hotline: 1-888-884-5683
Safe Haven, Inc. Hotline: 1-800-890-6040

**This project was supported by Grant No. 2016-WL-AX-0030 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author (s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.