January 22, 2016

From Tanya C. Richards, Project Director, Family Justice Center

Stark Statistics on Domestic Violence:

  • 1 in 4 Women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
  • An estimated 1.3 Million women are abused each year in the US. Physical abuse by a male partner is the most common injury to women, more than auto accidents, muggings and stranger rape combined.
  • There is also emotional abuse, financial abuse (controlling the money), restricting a partner’s ability to work, and denying basic needs.
  • 75% of domestic violence victims who are killed, are murdered during a separation.
  • Studies show that child abuse occurs in 30-60% of family violence cases that involve families with children.
  • Frequent exposure to violence in the home at an early age predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, and teaches them that violence is a normal way of life.
  • 8 billion per year is lost due to health costs of rape, physical assault, stalking and homicides by an intimate partner.

A team of county, city and business leaders, providers and survivors have come together to end this cycle of violence in Washington County. Our steering committee was formed in August of 2014 to explore the needs and opportunity to develop a Family Justice Center within Washington County, and have met monthly since then. The steering committee is chaired by Hillsboro Police Chief Lee Dobrowolski, and includes police chiefs and officials from Tigard, Beaverton, Forest Grove and Hillsboro police departments, Washington County Sheriff, District Attorney, County Administration, Public Health, Domestic Violence Resource Center

[now including Southeast Asian Women’s  Empowerment Association], Domestic Violence Intervention Council, Abuse Recovery Ministry Services, the Courts, Virginia Garcia, Centro Cultural, Legal Aid, other social services  and community business  people.

A Family Justice Center is the co-location of a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency team of professionals, who work together, under one roof, to provide coordinated services to victims of family violence.  The Family Justice Center model reduces Domestic Violence (DV) by providing wrap around support to victims of DV, their children and their communities, allowing them to survive, heal, and break the cycle of domestic violence. The Department of Justice considers the Family Justice Center model the best practice for servicing domestic violence victims and reducing the cycle of family and intimate partner  violence.

Multiple providers offer critical services in Washington County, but an individual needing services must go from site to site, sometimes miles without a personal vehicle, and many times with young children in tow, retelling and reliving the abuse multiple times. Systematic re-traumatization, and lack of enveloping support sends victims back to abuse. Delay may be dangerous.

Co-located services will include: daycare, food, law enforcement, safety planning, counseling for adult and children, health care, legal assistance and court access via video. Additional services that can be included are housing support, employment services, Dress for Success, Goodwill Job Services, transportation services, and prosecutors. The services will be culturally appropriate for the clients.

Location and size are vital concerns. Based on state and local data, the greatest need is in the Aloha, Beaverton area, which is also located in the center of the county. There may also be opportunity for satellite offices. The facility will have to be large enough, initial thoughts are around 20,000 to 25,000 Square Ft., to accommodate co-located agencies. We have tentatively located a 3-acre space in Aloha with three buildings totaling just under 24,000 square feet. We are engaged in a fund raising campaign.

Why undertake this?

Evidence based data shows us that when a community offers a Family Justice Center:

  1. Victims are much more likely to remove themselves from abuse and stay away from it.
  2. Victims are much more likely to appear for trial and defendants are more likely not to roll the dice hoping that the victim won’t show. Defendants are more likely to seek diversion as a result.
  3. Lethality diminishes. The cost of a murder prosecution is $1-$1.5 million, the cost of housing is $1 million lifetime, and if there are children, the cost of care is enormous and there is a reasonable fear of intergenerational abuse from learned conduct. The Family Justice Center model helps us to stop the cycle of abuse. This model reduces recidivism and alters the pattern of creating future criminals that are expensive to society and our economy. The FJC builds a fence at the top of the cliff instead of sending ambulances to the bottom.
  4. Serving more domestic violence victims will lead to a reduction in Domestic Violence. The Clackamas County FJC [A Safe Place] reports a doubling of clientele since opening. We are not even scratching the surface in Washington County.
  5. There are over 90 Family Justice Centers throughout the nation and evidence based data over the past 10 years show us that domestic violence homicides are reduced up to 50% in communities that have opened Family Justice Centers. This is just the absolute right thing to do.

As past Board Chair of the Domestic Violence Resource Center of Washington County and now as Project Director of this critical initiative, I am so honored to work with this amazing group of people to end the cycle of domestic violence in our county. To learn more, please visit our website and view our video at www.fjcwashco.org or contact Tanya at trichards@fjcwashco.org.

Providing Safety, Healing, and Hope for Families Impacted by Domestic Violence