FVAP’s mission is to ensure the safety and well-being of survivors of domestic violence and their children by helping them obtain effective appellate representation.
Video by Glenn Mercado
FVAP is transforming the power of the civil legal system and leveling the playing field for survivors of domestic violence. In many cases, survivors have also suffered financial abuse and cannot afford to appeal a trial court decision that puts them or their children in danger. At FVAP, we believe justice should be available to everyone, not just those who can afford it. We partner with pro bono attorneys from California and Washington’s top law firms and corporate legal teams to provide free, high-quality legal representation to survivors, giving them the best possible chance at success in their appeal. We win 81% of the affirmative appeals we bring to court on behalf of survivors — far above the California statewide average of 21% — and 100% of appeals we defend.
Ultimately, our goal is to break the intergenerational cycle of trauma and abuse. Children who experience the trauma of domestic violence are more likely to continue the cycle of abuse when they grow up. By making sure all kids have the chance to grow up in safe, healthy homes, we’re building a better future for the next generation.
SOCIAL JUSTICE: Our work is in support of a fair and accessible legal system that promotes a just society.
WELL-BEING: We believe ensuring the well-being of survivors and their families contributes to a healthy society.
DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES: Engaging a variety of voices and experiences results in more powerful and effective solutions.
TRANSFORMATION: Positive change in individuals, communities, systems, and society is possible and necessary.
CREATIVE LEGAL LEADERSHIP: We believe in the power of the legal system and that we can continuously shape it to respond to the needs of people who experience multiple oppressions.
2012: In the spring of 2012, two law students at U.C. Berkeley approached their professor with an idea. Family Violence Appellate Project opened its doors that summer, becoming the first nonprofit in California dedicated to helping domestic violence survivors with civil legal appeals. At the time, FVAP was housed in a one-room office in Berkeley. Though our staff, space, and operating budget were small, our determination was not.
2014: FVAP hired its third full-time attorney. Our staff was now 5 people strong.
2017: In the summer of 2017, on our 5th anniversary, we reached a milestone: 1,000 legal matters. Between direct legal representation, on-call legal assistance, and amicus (friend-of-the-court) briefs, our legal staff has now worked on over 1,000 legal matters on behalf of California domestic violence survivors and their children.
2018: Six+ years later, FVAP’s staff has a team of 11, filling a crucial gap in free legal assistance for California survivors, as the only statewide legal domestic violence organization operating in every part of California.
2021: After years of internal research, planning, and increased capacity, FVAP expands to Washington state to help more survivors.