On Wednesday, 11/10/2010, a luncheon was held to mark the creation of the new Family Justice Center. Participants included Police Chief Tom Bergamine, the luncheon was attended by Judge Beth Keever, Brenda Jackson from the Department of Social Services, District Attorney-elect Billy West, Hope Mills Police Chief Robert Hassell, Spring Lake Police Chief Troy McDuffie and Deanne Gerdes, Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County. The Family Justice Center will be a “one-stop shop” involving multiple victim-oriented agencies working from the same location. The Center will assist with support services and reduce the number of victims who fall through cracks due to agencies being scattered throughout the City.
Each year law enforcement agencies respond to an alarming number of incidents of domestic and sexual violence. The prevalence of family violence is even more alarming when one considers that experts estimate that only 25-percent of such cases are actually reported.
It is often difficult for victims to seek help when they are required to travel from location to location to seek services that are scattered throughout the community, repeating case details over and over to different agencies. With the current system, victims often become frustrated and ultimately stop seeking help.
A Family Justice Center offers comprehensive legal services, counseling to victims and children, links to Juvenile, Family and Criminal court, as well as access to on-site professionals providing civil legal services, public benefits assistance, advocacy, and safety planning. It can also provide comprehensive prevention efforts such as outreach to young adults and underserved victims through community education.
On-site partners and services at each Center often vary, based on the unique characteristics of the organizations in a particular community. During a strategic planning process, each Center must identify which services are most needed for victims. The services may be very limited such as the presence of police, prosecutors, and advocates. The services may also be very diverse and include full health services, job training, comprehensive and long-term counseling services, mentoring services for children, and a host of other services coupled with the basic services from police officers, prosecutors, and advocates.
Anyone wishing for more information regarding the Family Justice Center should contact Deanne Gerdes at 485-7273 or Kellie Berg at 433-1856.