• My Mission

    I'm Heather, and my mission is simple. I provide training, coaching and advocacy to frontline advocates and other professionals that increase their awareness and competence when engaging victims and perpetrators of domestic and teen dating violence.


    I provide training and education on issues related to domestic and teen dating violence in a variety of settings. I can tailor the information to meet the needs of the audience, including law enforcement and other first responders, social service and nonprofit agencies, school staff, attorneys, medical professionals and other professions that come into contact victims, perpetrators and families affected by domestic violence. I can also provide training and information seminars via the internet and online video chat.


    I provide coaching to frontline advocates who may encounter men, women and children affected by domestic violence. My coaching will provide you with the tools to work effectively with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.


    As a Social Worker I have always believed that advocacy for my clients is one of my biggest strengths and one of the most important services that I provide. However; we often forget to advocate for ourselves in the pursuit of providing quality service. I am here to advocate for you, so that you have the necessary resources to feel confident in your ability to address issues related to domestic violence. I am also here to help you and your staff process these very difficult and sometimes emotionally charged cases.

    Expert Testimony

    I have been called to testify as an expert witness in cases involving domestic violence. I can provide expert testimony regarding domestic violence, the dynamics of domestic violence, the affect domestic violence has on children and the co-occurrence of domestic violence and child abuse and families involved in the child welfare system.

    What my training can do for you


    • Improved proficiency of staff who interview victims and perpetrators of domestic violence
    • Improved understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence
    • Improved knowledge of victim's needs leading to improved relationships with victims
    • Learn to recognize signs of domestic violence
    • Improved understanding of perpetrator behavior, accountability and appropriate services for perpetrators
    • Better service outcomes for your clients or patients
    • Learn how to create an appropriate case plan for victims and perpetrators
    • Learn how to help a victim to create an appropriate safety plan
    • Awareness of domestic violence resources in your area

    Extraordinary Advocates


    I founded Extraordinary Advocates after working as a Social Worker in the field of child welfare for over 10 years. Having worked in the child welfare setting and domestic violence shelters I have had the unique experience of seeing the gap that exist between domestic violence services and child welfare services. As a result of this gap victims of domestic violence are often time re-victimized by the child welfare system, and many others. They are labeled as bad mothers and blamed for the abuse. They are labeled as uncooperative when they refuse to testify against the perpetrator for safety reasons. Professionals often create inappropriate case plans for victims and perpetrators which can create additional problems. Extraordinary Advocates provides education through training, coaching and advocacy to frontline advocates and other professionals that encounter women, men and children affected by domestic and teen dating violence. My training will help you and your staff to be more informed regarding issues of domestic violence as it relates to the entire family.


    Services can accommodate a variety of audiences and groups in a variety of setting, for in person, video and remote presentations.

    Child and Family Services Agency

    Domestic Violence Specialist

    2014 - 2015

    I provided coaching, training and teaming to Social Workers, Supervisors, Attorneys and other community stake holders regarding child welfare cases where domestic violence was a factor. I also conducted assessments for victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. I have been called to testify as an expert witness in court regarding cases where domestic violence is a factor.


    Social Worker

    2004 - 2014

    I have provided case management to children and adolescents in foster care. I am knowledgeable of community and social service agencies and am familiar with the referral process. I have assisted in the orientation and training of new staff members and foster parents. I am skilled at facilitating groups for adults, adolescents and children.


    I am passionate about Social Work and work well in crisis situations. As a Social Worker I am a natural multi-tasker and enjoy working with groups.


    Center for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

    Children's Advocate/Hotline Counselor, 1998-2000





    I managed the children's program in the shelter. I facilitated groups for children ranging in age from 8 to 15, groups sometimes included working with an art therapist. As part of a team I provided training to school teachers on how to recognize domestic violence and how to assist students who may be affected by domestic violence. I have also provided assistance to victims seeking help through the domestic violence hotline.


    I also accompanied victims and their children to court as an advocate.



    Cleveland State University

    Masters of Social Work degree, 2004

    I earned my MSW from Cleveland State University in 2004. I also earned my Bachelors degree from Cleveland State University where I majored in Sociology.



    Extraordinary Advocates


    Heather Shorten




  • What's going on at Extraordinary Advocates!

    Here are a few things I have been working on.

    Papers and articles

    The Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association has published my article entitled, Reducing Domestic Violence Homicides and Enhancing Perpetrator Accountability in Child Welfare Cases. You can access the article here,

    www.mentalhealthaustralia.org.au. You can also read my paper, Engaging Families in Domestic Violence Cases at the Australian Domestic Violence Conference website. You can also read my paper at www.stopdomesticviolence.com.au.


  • Praise for Extraordinary Advocates

    We always strive for the best.

    Hi Ms. Zollicoffer,


    I’m the GAL for a client for whose parents/caregivers Ms. Shorten did DV assessments.  Following her prompt assessments, Ms. Shorten attended a team meeting to discuss what should be done on the case and to weigh in on what she thinks may be happening, how we should approach the family given the likely occurrence of DV, and what actions might endanger the probable DV victim.


    Ms. Shorten was instrumental in helping the professionals reframe our plans and discussions in light of CFSA’s effort to promote evidence-based and victim-friendly approaches to child welfare.  She provided valuable information and wasn’t afraid to jump in and gently reframe the conversation where appropriate.  She has also weighed in on emails and I hope she continues to be able to guide our work on this case.


    I just wanted to let you know what a fantastic job she has done and what an asset she is to our teaming.  I had no idea that CFSA had DV specialists, and certainly had no idea we could utilize their expertise so helpfully.  I will be sure to seek this out where applicable going forward.


    Thanks for your time.




    Megan Conway

    Staff Attorney

    Children’s Law Center

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