Sullivan County aims to open center that brings victims’ services in to one place

SULLIVAN COUNTY, TN (WJHL) -Sullivan County is approved to start a Family Justice Center, a place aimed at making the lives of domestic violence victims easier. The facility will coordinate law enforcement, counseling, and prosecution efforts in to one location.

Right now, victims of abuse have to travel from one building to the next on different days, different locations in their fight to get healing and justice.

“The whole system can be very frightening. You’re having to deal with protections, order of protections, dealing with law enforcement, and just the fear that comes with being a victim of domestic violence,” Gena Frye, director of the Sullivan County Children’s Advocacy Center said.

Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus said many victims don’t have the resources to go to the lengths it takes to get justice, get overwhelmed, and give up. But this center aims to make that grueling process easier on the victims, alleviating some of that fear and stress.

“We want to have a center where a victim of domestic violence or someone who’s been subject to elder abuse can come and we can open the door and say come in we have everything you need here. You can see a police officer here, you can get counseling here, you can file for a protective order here,” Karen Turnage Boyd, site coordinator for the Sullivan County Family Justice Center Project said.

A federal grant of $240,000 over three years will help start the center.

“Forty, maybe 50 percent of my cases are domestic violence related, that means a lot of assets, a lot of resources a lot of time are tied up in those cases and they’re also serious cases and they tend to be repeat business and there seems to be a cycle. And they’re very difficult cases emotionally and legally to resolve,” Staubus said.

“This simplifies the process for the victims during a very stressful time.” Boyd said. “It makes it less likely that we’re going to lose them in the system.”

“It provides an interdisciplinary source, it provides efficiency, and it allows all the other agencies to know what each other’s doing, to work in a concerted effort,” Staubus said.

“We feel very strongly that the Family Justice Center, if we can do this and provide the services with the Family Justice Center that the victims of domestic abuse will find safety and be able to move away from their situation that is dangerous,” Frye said.

There is still lots to be done over the next few years to make this dream a reality, as of now the plan is to open in July of 2018.

Meanwhile, Washington County is launching its own Family Justice Center Thursday, after getting a similar grant a few years ago. It’s located on Montgomery Street in Johnson City.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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