40 Stories - Safe Families Office

Domestic Violence Project’s Safe Families Office

On the second floor of the Fulton County Courthouse building on Pryor Street is a unique, model program; Domestic Violence Project’s Safe Families Office, SFO for short.  The purpose of SFO is to provide legal advocacy services including preparing temporary protection orders, assisting clients in completing necessary paperwork and advocating for the domestic violence survivor in the intimidating and complex judicial system. SFO is jointly operated by PADV and the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, making it the only lawyer-staffed, courthouse based resource for survivors of domestic violence in Georgia. 

Our desire is very simple: to assists victims of intimate partner violence and stalking and help secure protection for the children involved in these situations. Through this partnership we provide legal options and interventions to survivors as well as safety planning and referrals to other resources that will assist survivors in rebuilding their lives.

SFO is staffed by 3 dedicated PADV employees, Lorina, Mandy, and Shatel, in addition to the staff provided by AVLF and many volunteers and interns.  Lorina, Mandy and Shatel bring with them a wealth of experience to help families navigate the challenges of the legal system.  Mandy is a former prosecutor, Shatel holds a Ph.D. in Counselor Education & Supervision, and Lorina worked in the DA’s office in Hawaii.  Each one believes that there is great work to be done and that they are meant to do the work.  Shatel believes that SFO and PADV is the “light house in choppy seas” because we have the ability to touch lives in such a positive way, often in a way that these lives have never before been touched.  Mandy wants survivors to know, “ask for help.  At PADV no one will judge you. We are here to help you find your path.  Everyone has a path.  Everyone has a path to get here and a path after us.  Everyone’s path getting here is different so don’t apologize for the path that brought you here.” 

What makes PADV and SFO special according to Lorina is that “We have a lot of resources to help people where they are.  People that work for PADV are very caring and dedicated.”

Finally Lorina, Mandy and Shatel asked that we leave you with this:

“People walk in the door a victim and leave a survivor.  It’s their first step to regaining their power and it may be the first time they have had that power in their lives.”