Local center offers in-house resources for domestic violence victims

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Whenever a staff member from the One Place Family Justice Center meets a new victim, Executive Director Kaye Harris said the first thing they do is create a safety plan.

"We talk to them about their goals," said Harris. "Are you going to leave? Are you going to stay? What is it that you want? Then, we plan for that accordingly."

The center provides in-house services, for free, to assist with all of challenges facings a survivor of domestic abuse.

"Under this roof we have a the Family Sunshine Center who provides case management and intake assessment," said Harris. "We have Legal Services of Alabama who provides pro bono legal assistance to victims with things like divorces, custody, bankruptcies, immigration and other issues. The Montgomery Police Department's domestic violence unit is housed here, so if a victim wants to press charges against a person who has abused them, they can."

Harris said, in 2017, the center worked with 987 clients, conducted 181 sexual assault exams and provided more than 4,000 referrals for services like shelters and counseling. However, she said she knows there are many more.

"Oh, I believe that only have of what's going on gets reported," Harris said.

For Harris and her staff, the value in having deputy district attorneys, sheriff's deputies, police officers, counselors, case workers and medical professionals all in-house is that it keeps victims, who are usually already traumatized, from having to travel or spend money to get the help they need.

"When they have to travel, that's when we lose them," Harris said.

According to Harris, even with the services provided, the center loses a good number of people who come in.

"There is national data that shows it takes about seven times for someone to leave for good," said Harris.

However many times it takes, Harris said she and her staff are ready. She said once victims muster the courage to contact the center, they will do the rest.

You can reach One Place Family Justice Center at (334) 262-7378 or the center's rape crisis line at (334) 213-1227.

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