40 Stories - Frances Smith

Legal Advocate

Spend only five minutes with Frances and you will quickly find that she overflows with energy and passion.  Sixteen years ago Frances started with PADV as a legal advocacy volunteer and every Tuesday for 5 years she showed up bright and early to help clients seeking temporary protective orders (TPO).  The more time Frances spent with us, the more that her passion for PADV and helping victims grew.  She has a love for what we are doing, where we were going and seeks to help as many people as she can.  Frances said, “Women may come in broken and battered seeking a TPO, but as long as they are breathing we can help.  Your life is not over, we can figure something out, we can do things to make it better.”

After serving PADV for 5 years as a volunteer, Frances got the opportunity to join the staff as a legal advocate.  Now she typically sees 40 people a week at the Gwinnett detention center, where women must go to file for a TPO. 

Frances grew up seeing a beautiful, loving partnership between her mother and father.  While she didn’t witness domestic violence as a child, Frances saw in her Mother the effect of living in a home with domestic violence present.  Frances’ mother witnessed severe violence by her father, and still struggles with unresolved issues and trauma from those events.   Her mother has stated repeatedly, “No child should ever live in that much fear.” This focus on creating safe homes for all mothers and children drives Frances’ passion for PADV. 

Frances delights in going to the PADV shelters and watching children laugh, play and work with the child advocates to move forward from their pain and fear.   Frances knows that because of the impactful intervention provided, these children won’t have to experience the ongoing trauma, fear and anxiety that her mother went through.  They are working at a young age to leave the emotional pain of domestic violence behind.  It gives her hope to see the cycle of violence broken, and children with smiling faces.

Frances’s message to those still living in relationships where domestic violence is present is simple:

“If you are ready: come and get a protective order
If you are not safe: come to our safe house
There is hope. There is life after domestic violence”

Every day for 11 years Frances has told the families she serves one simple message: “We are saving lives. We are saving your life today, so you don’t have to live with this tomorrow”