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Empowering Voices and Pursuing Justice: My Summer Internship Experience.

By Brionna Crawford, Intern, Summer 2023

My commitment to advocating for the rights of marginalized communities led me to pursue a summer internship at BWJP. When I learned about BWJP, I was inspired by the organization's commitment to and results for domestic violence survivors. Throughout this transformative experience, I had the privilege of working alongside talented professionals, supporting advocacy for domestic violence survivors, and honing critical legal skills.

Beginning at orientation, I was educated on the barriers faced by domestic violence survivors. BWJP staff was diligent in providing comprehensive educational tools and opportunities for interns to learn about domestic violence through a survivor-centered lens and a breadth of perspectives, providing a foundation for the research I would pursue during the summer.

Consequently, I gained a deeper understanding of the complexity between domestic violence and various aspects of survivors' lives, including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, immigration status, and disability. Witnessing the impact of these intersecting identities on the survivors' access to justice further shaped my work as I ensured the inclusion of various experiences in my projects.

As an intern at BWJP, I was tasked with updating statutory matrices, which required me to update citations and conduct legislative research. Additionally, I authored publications on extreme risk protection orders, civil protection orders, and the codification of coercive control in the criminal code, requiring intensive legal research and challenging me to communicate complex information to non-legal professionals. Through these assignments, I not only improved my legal research and writing skills but also learned to tailor my language to create accessible resources for a diverse audience. During the school year, legal writing’s importance is emphasized; however, through this hands-on practice, I continue to learn its value.

One of my favorite projects during my internship was the publication I authored analyzing the impact of the codification of "coercive control" language in criminal codes. Through extensive research, I developed a comprehensive understanding of how legislation in different jurisdictions can influence survivors' experiences. I learned the significance of approaching domestic violence cases holistically and appreciated the interconnectedness of civil, criminal, and family law when seeking justice for survivors.

Several of my projects this summer allowed me to compare the experiences of survivors seeking justice across civil, criminal, and family law, as well as across jurisdictions. This analysis illustrated not only the gaps in relief and resources but also the strides and impacts of increased protections. This perspective has influenced how I view progress within the causes most important to me. BWJP is persistent and consistent, and while further work is needed within this domain, the impact of BWJP's work is not without reward.

Another aspect of my internship allowed me to use my background in public policy while updating and creating educational materials for allied professionals to support domestic violence survivors seeking protection orders. This task required me to critically analyze existing policies and identify areas for improvement. I highlighted the importance of survivor-centered policies that consider the unique needs and experiences of each individual, reinforcing the significance of approaching legal advocacy with empathy and sensitivity.

One of the key takeaways from my internship was the intersection of public policy and the law in advancing social justice causes. Working with BWJP allowed me to witness how impactful policy advocacy can be in shaping legislation and creating positive changes in the legal landscape.

My summer internship at BWJP has been an eye-opening and inspirational experience. Through my work, I gained a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by domestic violence survivors and the critical role of legal and allied professionals in advocating for their rights. My legal research and writing skills were strengthened, and I witnessed firsthand the impact of effective policy advocacy. As I continue my journey through law school, I am filled with a renewed sense of purpose and dedication to empowering voices and pursuing justice for those who need it most.

Brionna Crawford is a 2L at Howard University School of Law, dedicated to creating social impact at the intersection of law and policy. Prior to law school, she received a Master's Degree in Public Policy from Vanderbilt University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Oakwood University. This summer at the Battered Women's Justice Project, she worked with three of our centers: the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith and Credit; the National Center on Gun Violence and Firearms; the National Center on Legal Approaches to Prevent Family Violence; as well as working with the External Relations team.


TAGS: #BWJP Announcements #Coercive Control #Gender Based Violence #News #Women

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