UT Order of Protection Day helps victims, students move forward

By: Sara Shookman Email
By: Sara Shookman Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Some domestic violence victims around Knox County will sleep a little easier Thursday. UT Law School's Order of Protection Day takes trial court on the road.

It's a day of learning for both UT law students and the domestic violence victims they help as they bring court into the classroom.

"This has been months of process. Very little sleep last night," said Elizabeth Ridings. She hasn't faced her abuser in months but today she will, to keep him away forever.

"I want lifetime, a Chinese wall," she said.

At UT's Order of Protection Day, her day in court will make a temporary restraining order against an ex-boyfriend, permanent. She worked with YWCA for support, even leaving her home three weeks ago.

"Kinda just disappeared. The last thing I took down was curtains," said Ridings.

The partnership between the courts and Sheriff's Office takes dozens of people to pull together for this eighth annual event. But for students, the experience is priceless.

"I've learned a great deal of just how to carry myself when speaking with clients," said Abigail Newbury, a third year law student.

"The students already have heard in the classroom about the issues surrounding domestic abuse, domestic violence," said Dean Doug Blaze, "But this brings it home and puts it in a real world setting."

That's when the emotions come off the textbook page. "There's a vast legal underpinning, but the emotions are raw. And that's hard for some people," said Knox County Fourth Circuit Court Judge Bill Swann.

It's hardest for brave women and men like Ridings. "It's a big step. It takes a lot of courage," she said. "No man is worth going through what a man can put a woman through. Emotionally, mentally, physically."

The event is held each year during October, which is domestic violence awareness month.

For more information on how you resources that could help you or someone you love battling the issue, you can contact UT's Domestic Violence Clinic at 865-974-2331.

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