Making an Impact in Your Local Community

Vol. 42 No. 6

By

Jocelyn R. Mitnaul, a 3L at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the 2013–2014 Law Student Division liaison to the Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence.

The ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence seeks to increase access to justice for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking by mobilizing the legal profession. While the commission works to achieve these goals nationally, the issue of domestic and sexual violence is often addressed locally. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center (OCRCC) works to eliminate sexual violence in the local community.

The center operates a 24-hour help line, offers referrals for therapy, and hosts support groups. Additionally, one of its major initiatives involves annual presentations in Orange County public schools that are appropriately tailored depending on the age of the audience. “By raising awareness and challenging stereotypes and power and control mechanisms within social structures, we can work toward the goal of eliminating sexual violence,” said Mary Irvine, board member at the OCRCC.

Irvine’s desire to become involved with the center began after she participated in the Domestic Violence Clinic in law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Irvine encourages law students to have an open mind when seeking opportunities to apply skills learned in law school to help organizations after graduation. “My involvement with the OCRCC is not in a legal capacity. There are many different ways to serve as advocates and you can still continue to work on issues that you care about even if it’s not the path your legal career takes you.”

Organizations like the OCRCC often welcome volunteers, especially those with legal knowledge or training. By joining the LearnDSV listserv at www.americanbar.org/groups/ domestic_violence/resources/listervs_for_attorneys.html, you can learn more about the ABA Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence and potential opportunities in your community to get involved.

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