One out of every three women in the world will be raped, beaten, trafficked, or abused in her lifetime. In California alone, law enforcement receives one domestic violence related call every three minutes.

Tia Katrina Taruc Canlas founded the Alipato Project in Oakland to help provide legal representation for domestic violence survivors and obtain financial restitution from their abusers. Alipato is a Tagalog noun, which means “a small glowing ember that escapes a dying fire.”

On May 4th, 2013, the Alipato Project launched an Indiegogo Online Fundraising Campaign to raise funds for an office space, equipment, and to cover filing fees for victims of abuse. The organization hopes to raise $50,000 by June 19, 2013, with gifts available to donors including VIP tickets for the Project’s screening of “All Good Things” at the New Parkway Theater for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In 2002, the California Legislature responded to widespread concern about gender-based violence by enacting AB 1933, which established a new cause of action for the intentional tort of domestic violence. This statute enhanced the civil remedies available to domestic violence victims to “underscore society’s condemnation of these acts, to ensure complete recovery to victims, and to impose significant financial consequences upon perpetrators,” (AB 1933).

By establishing the tort of domestic violence, AB 1933 made available compensatory and punitive damages to survivors of domestic violence who need money for medical bills, therapy, relocation expenses, lost wages, damages property, and attorney’s fees.

Seeking damages through an intentional tort claim is an effective way to compensate victims and deter batterers from future abuse. Unfortunately, many law firms are unwilling to litigate these types of claims. Statistics show negligent tort cases represent 60% of torts tried in civil courts, while intentional torts only compose 4%; domestic violence claims are an unreported fraction of those intentional tort claims.

This underrepresentation is caused by three factors:

  1.  Liability insurance policies do not cover intentional torts.
  2.  Because of the assumption that batterers have limited assets, it seems less profitable for law firms to specialize in domestic violence cases than, for example, automobile accident claims in which plaintiffs and their attorneys recover directly from insurance companies.
  3. Many people remain unaware that AB 1933 made compensatory and punitive damages available to domestic violence survivors, even ten years after its enactment. This is in large part due to the fact that existing domestic violence legal programs only focus on requesting restraining orders and practicing criminal, immigration, and family law.

The legal community currently needs a strategy that simultaneously provides full financial redress to victims and holds perpetrators financially accountable in a manner that deters future misconduct. The Alipato Project was the first organization founded to meet this need.

To donate to The Alipato Project click: here  

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