Since its inception, the education, service and research agenda of the Domestic Violence Institute has been guided by the three principles: client empowering advocacy, community-based programming, and a multi-disciplinary solution to the complex problem of domestic violence. To incorporate these principles into our work, we have always relied on collaboration with other agencies and institutions that serve victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. In 1990, our legal clinic was located in a battered women's shelter, where we were able to see first-hand the value of the client empowering model for advocacy. Over the years, our commitment to this form of advocacy has been reinforced by our own experiences as well as our continuing collaboration with battered women's service groups. We have continued to make our services accessible not at the School of Law, but at community locations where victims of violence first turn for help. Although the shelter where we first worked from now has a vital, full-time legal project of its own, our two primary advocacy programs at the Dorchester Court (a lower level community court with civil and criminal jurisdiction) and the Emergency Department of the Boston Medical Center (the primary trauma center in Boston and the major hospital have traditionally served residents of Boston's low income neighborhoods and are widely utilized centers. Not coincidently, our civil legal advocacy staff and students work directly alongside advocates from community-based victim services programs; police, advocates and lawyers involved in law enforcement; health care and mental health professionals. We both contribute to and benefit from these multidisciplinary environments.
DVI's collaboration with other community agencies and institutions has gone beyond just placing clinical students in community locations. Partly by choice, at times by necessity, and aided by federal funding that recognizes the value of a coordinated community response to domestic violence, Northeastern's DVI has been a partner in a series of community collaborations seeking to change the way in which all institutions respond to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The collaborations, by the difficulty of maintaining partnerships and the transient nature of most funding for social service initiatives, have changed over years DVI has worked on this issue. Moreover, as a greater number of legal agencies and institutions have dedicated staff and programming to combating violence against women, we have increased our collaborations with civil legal services organizations. However, it is remarkable how closely we continue to work with the very same individuals, agencies and institutions that, like the School of Law, first turned their attention to violence against women nearly two decades ago.
Although somewhat arbitrarily, we have divided our description of DVI's community collaborations into four subsections: Civil Legal Services Initiatives; Community Collaborations in Dorchester; Medical/Legal Collaborations; and our newest partnership, Northeastern's Campus Center for Violence Against Women.