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GBLS Senior Paralegal, Paula Starr, Assists Victims of Domestic Violence through Unique Project at Middlesex Probate and Family Court
For the past 15 years, three days a week, you can find GBLS Senior Paralegal, Paula Starr, in the Middlesex Probate and Family Court in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Paula is the only victim services provider in this court. She is there to provide unrepresented victims of domestic violence (DV) a kind and helping hand with counsel, advice, safety planning, referrals and support. She is gentle and compassionate.
Often, DV victims are afraid and their self-esteem has been diminished by years of abuse. With an advocate by their side, they are better able to communicate their situations and the danger that threatens them every day, and with Paula’s assistance they can explain why they need protection from the court.
In 2011, Paula assisted 102 project clients, and was instrumental in obtaining about one third of all the abuse prevention orders issued by the court. She has well-developed relationships with judges and other court personnel, the Middlesex District Attorney, and local police departments, and is often consulted by them regarding cases. All of this helps more battered women obtain protection from abuse and to move forward with their children to a life without violence.
Paula recently worked with a young 22-year-old single mother who had experienced a particularly violent relationship and where the abuse continued even after the break-up. The young mother successfully obtained a protective order and Paula worked with her on an extensive safety plan. After the hearing, the client asked Paula if she could give her a hug, and told her, “When I came into this building this morning I didn't think anyone would really care, but you did and I thank you so much for myself and my child.”