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Opportunity Details

Family Services, Health & Wellness
Administrative Support/Clerical,Caring for People,Advocacy

Age Minimum (with Adult): 18+, Minimum Age:18+

Legal Advocate for Survivors of Domestic Violence

A legal advocate for survivors of domestic violence attends family law restraining order hearings in person at the Watsonville courthouse to provide assistance with legal paperwork, provide peer and emotional support, answer general questions about the legal system without offering legal advice, liaise between the survivor and court employees, and offer local legal resources as needed.

Previous experience in advocacy or law is not required. Training is included and meets the California legal requirements to be certified as an advocate for domestic violence survivors (California Evidence Code §1037).

Why It Matters
Current research shows that, in the US, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience some form of abuse from an intimate partner. Domestic violence has a reciprocal relationship with other forms of abuse of power, such as racism, transphobia, and ableism, and it is the primary cause of homelessness among women. It impacts not only the well-being of an individual but also the family, the community, and society as a whole. Because domestic violence is so prevalent, it comes up in areas outside of domestic violence agencies: hospitals, therapists’ offices, substance use recovery programs, homelessness, schools, families, friend groups, corporate workplaces, law enforcement, etc.


  • Understanding of domestic and gendered violence in both the personal and broader political contexts
  • Skill development in crisis intervention
  • Skill development in peer support, emotional support, healthy boundaries, and other interpersonal skills
  • Being a safer, more effective ally for survivors both professionally and personally
  • Knowledge of local family law processes
  • Additional trainings and professional development opportunities offered by guest speakers at the monthly supervisory meetings
  • Opportunity for academic credit, work experience, and other benefits for future educational or employment options
  • Opportunities for networking with local legal officials, employees, and groups


  • Be 18 years or older
  • Have not received domestic violence services as a participant with Walnut Avenue for a minimum of two years
  • Attend a Walnut Avenue volunteer orientation
  • Pass a fingerprinting/criminal background check
  • Completion of the 40+ hour advocacy certification training (required by California law)
  • Participation in our 24-hour hotline service
  • Detail-oriented, punctual, and able to conform to structural requirements/policies
  • Business or business-casual attire
  • An email which is checked regularly
  • Professional verbal and written communication with supervisor
  • Maintain high confidentiality standard
  • Bilingual Spanish encouraged but not required

Time Commitment

  • Commitment to 12 consecutive months of service
  • One weekly shift on our hotline (9am-5pm or 5pm-9am), taken anywhere you have phone reception and the option for privacy
  • One monthly professional development/supervisory meeting, attended in person (first Wednesdays, 5:30-7:30pm)
  • Attending court every Thursday from 7:30am-1pm

Associated Costs

  • Certification training with commitment to 12 months: $50 materials fee
  • Certification training without commitment to 12 months: $250
  • Standard background check (required for all volunteers): $45
  • Background check for volunteers also providing services for children and teens: $102, with option for reimbursement after 3 months of service

If cost is a barrier for you, please contact the community engagement coordinator to discuss your options without judgment at

To Get Started
The first step is to attend a volunteer orientation at Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center, which happen about twice a month/every two weeks. To hear upcoming dates and times and to register for the one which works best for you, please call our office at (831) 426-3062. If you have any questions or concerns about this process, please contact our community engagement coordinator, Marjorie Coffey, at

It is the policy of Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center to provide equal employment, volunteer opportunities and services to participants (EEO) to all persons regardless of ancestry, age, color, national origin, disability (physical and mental, includes HIV and AIDS), genetic information, race, religion (includes religious dress and grooming), gender, sex (includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and/or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, military or veteran, request for FMLA or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.

Get Involved...Select the Red "Express Interest" button below
**This is a Referral Opportunity, which means it is run directly by one of our nonprofit partners. Once you express interest, someone from the partner organization should follow up with you shortly to discuss confirming you as a volunteer for this opportunity.

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Contact the Volunteer Center

1740 17th Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Phone: 831-427-5070

©2017 Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, an affiliate of the HandsOn Connect, 1740 17th Ave | Santa Cruz, CA 95062

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