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Bronx Court Leads Game-Changing Program for Survivors of Domestic Violence in New York State

The Domestic Violence Online Petition Program will save hundreds of hours of time that victims would have spent waiting in court to file an Order of Protection, New York’s term for a restraining order. Safe Horizon, the largest victim assistance agency in the country, worked closely with leadership from the Center for Court Innovation and Bronx judges to bring this program from concept to reality.

"The Online Petition Program uses technology to improve victim safety. By streamlining and speeding the issuance of orders of protection and improving communication among multiple agencies, the program is making a real difference in victim's lives," said Liberty Aldrich, the director of Domestic Violence Programs at the Center for Court Innovation.

The first online petition was filed by Safe Horizon Senior Case Manager Josefa Romero in February of 2013 and by July, Safe Horizon’s Leah Scondotto was training advocates in Brooklyn. Safe Horizon worked closely with other advocacy groups to develop, evaluate and refine the filing protocols and process. The system was expanded to include support for elder abuse, filing from remote court locations, and filing family court orders in criminal court after hours.

This program went from pilot to wide release in one of the shortest timelines of any new court initiative that I have seen in 25 years in the courts. With the tremendous support of Safe Horizon we created a program that benefits victims, advocates and the courts with minimal financial cost by using technology more efficiently.

– Mike Williams, Clerk of Court for New York State Family Court in the Bronx

Kim Kavern, Safe Horizon Director of Bronx Family Courts, has already trained advocates and chief court clerks in NYC. She will partner with Mike to train advocates and court personnel across the state by the end of 2014.

Safe Horizon CEO, Ariel Zwang, sees this as the first step in using technology to change the way victims of violence interact with the legal system and “with leaders like Mike and Kim, we expect the Bronx to continue innovation that makes justice more accessible to those who need it most.”

Available for Interview

Ariel Zwang, CEO, Safe Horizon

Kim Kavern, Director of Bronx Family Courts, Safe Horizon

Liberty Aldrich, Director of Domestic Violence Programs, Center for Court Innovation

Mike Williams, Clerk of Court for New York State Family Court in the Bronx

About Safe Horizon

Safe Horizon is the nation’s leading victim assistance organization and touches the lives of more than 250,000 affected by crime and abuse each year. Whether Safe Horizon is responding to child abuse, domestic violence, or other violent crimes, Safe Horizon helps victims and their families heal and rebuild their lives. For more information, please visit

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Safe Horizon's mission is to provide support, prevent violence and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities.
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