Family Justice Center says it’s helped over 100 victims of domestic and sexual abuse since its opening in July

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- A new resource that’s the first of its kind here in the Tri-Cities says it’s helped more than 100 people since its opening.

Six months ago the Family Justice Center in Johnson City opened its doors as a one-stop-shop for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, putting all resources they need under one roof.

If you talk to the people who run this place they’ll tell you, no one ever plans to need their help. But the site coordinator for the Family Justice Center Heather Brack said domestic crime accounts for more than half of the crimes here and across the state, affecting families without regard for their economic or social status.

“There’s no corner of Washington County and Johnson City that’s not touched by domestic violence,” Brack said.

In the past few months, she said over 100 people from all walks of life have walked through the doors of the Family Justice Center.

“One in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime in some capacity and you don’t want to not know that these things exist by waiting and saying oh I’m never going to need to utilize that. The fact of the matter is we all know somebody who has been through something like this and knowing how to access those resources and is invaluable,” Brack said.

Before the Family Justice Center opened in July, victims faced a confusing system, often of their worst day.”They were trying to navigate it themselves,” Brack said.

Now six months since the opening, Brack shared with us stories of success from women and men who came here and found all the resources they need under one roof, among them-emergency shelter, police and sheriff’s departments, and advocates.

“A lot of people have fallen through the cracks and fallen off the map because advocacy services weren’t available,” Cortney Copeland, program coordinator for the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee said. That is one of the offices now located at the center.

The county is set to pay about $50,000 a year for the center, money Brack said will have a return on investment down the road, “Being able to provide this ancillary service that helps everyone find safety and get back on their feet will get keep that recidivism down which helps the system overall,” Brack said.

All services are free of charge, no appointment necessary, and if you want, completely anonymous.

“To be able to come in and have this encompassing care we’re going to help them with all other questions, all of their needs, all the way through the process, it was kind of like we’re able to lift a weight off of their shoulders,” Brack said.

And she said it’s not just for victims.”Questions on how to help somebody, that’s also what we’re here for there’s no question that’s too small there’s no event that’s too large,” Brack said.

She said moving forward she wants to start a sexual assault and domestic violence support group. She said they are also working on putting someone inside of the courts who can help answer questions for these victims.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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