Last night marked the finale of Big Little Lies, a mini-series on HBO based on the best-selling book by Liane Moriarty. The show was fantastic—great performances, fascinating story, and probably the most breathtakingly beautiful filming locations ever.
However, what really stood out on this show was it’s realistic portrayal of domestic violence. Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgård play Celeste and Perry Wright. On the surface, they seem to have the perfect marriage—they are incredibly attractive, extraordinarily wealthy, and the proud parents of adorable twin boys. Plus, they appear to be madly in love and have a very active sex life. Yet, the show quickly reminds viewers that you never know what’s going on behind closed doors. In a nutshell—Perry is abusive, and the show covers how Celeste handles the abuse.
Kidman’s scenes with her therapist in particular are so well-done. Her performance is Emmy-worthy and seems to really reveal the thoughts and range of emotions that women facing domestic violence go through. Certainly, while watching this series, you root for Celeste and hope she gets the help that she needs. However, more importantly, you might wonder how you can help women who are victims of such abuse in real life.
Well, as lawyers, there is a lot you can do.
“Lawyers can and should be important allies for women facing domestic violence,” says Carolyn Kelley North, LCSW, a marital psychotherapist who has handled many abuse cases throughout her 25-year career. “For instance, they can provide concrete practical advice, especially surrounding issues of financial power, child custody, and restraining orders.”
Here’s how you can help:
Support the Legal Services Corporation (LSC).
This organization helps provide legal aid to low-income people facing domestic abuse among others in need. And it needs help now: The Trump administration has proposed that Congress fully eliminate all finding for LSC. Other than contacting the LSC directly, you can also show your support by registering as a legal aid defender at DefendLegalAid.com and by finding out ways to advocate, volunteer, and donate to support legal aid at HelpLegalAid.com, both American Bar Association sites.
Consider pro bono work.
Check out the National Domestic Violence Pro Bono Directory. This site provides a wealth of information for lawyers looking to help those who are victims of abuse.
Learn everything you can.
By learning what you can about domestic violence and the statutes in your state, you can better assist those in need. WomensLaw.org is one particular site that really helps show you how you can help. Also, get a true sense of the people you’re helping—you can read some of their stories here.