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Domestic Violence Survivors Say Family Justice Center Helped Save Their Lives

Click on the screen to view a video about the Anaheim Family Justice Center

Click on the screen to view a video about the Anaheim Family Justice Center

Three domestic violence survivors shared personal stories of terror Thursday – and then thanked the Anaheim Family Justice Center for giving them enough confidence to walk away from abusive relationships.

“I never knew a place like this existed,” said Eva, whose husband beat her for 12 years before trying to suffocate her. “I’m really grateful that you made sure my family was safe.”

The women are among thousands of domestic, child and elder abuse and sexual assault victims who have been served by the justice center since it opened three years ago.

Survivors Eva and Lisa

Survivors Eva and Lisa

It’s Orange County’s first and only one-stop center for victims – and one of only about 50 in the nation. Community and police leaders gathered to celebrate the center’s accomplishments – and to appeal to the community for continued support.

“This center isn’t just about treating and serving victims,” said Police Chief John Welter. “It’s about preventing crime.”

The statistics are staggering. In the U.S. four people are murdered by a domestic partner each day. Half of Anaheim’s homicides result from domestic issues, Welter said.

“Can you visualize what it’s like to grow up in a household where violence in commonplace?” he asked. “We must stop the cycle.”

In the old days, said Lt. Julian Harvey, after domestic violence victims filed a police report they’d be given bus money and sent to the courthouse to file a temporary restraining order.

The justice center houses representatives from social service agencies, police, the district attorney’s office, legal aid and other agencies. Everything is handled on-site.

The center has even taken it a step further, offering a Survivor’s Academy for women like Sandra, Eva and Lisa.

The classes, attended mostly by women and offered in Spanish, include lectures in financial planning, job training and self-esteem.

Volunteer Deanna Irwin

Volunteer Deanna Irwin

They’ve had a profound impact. Sandra was in an abusive marriage. One night last summer, her husband – in a drunken rage – slammed her against a wall and then pinned her on the bed.

“At that moment I realized he wanted to end my life,” she said. Her five-year-old daughter interrupted and she got away.

“I’m grateful that a place like this exists,” she said. “Because of all of you I am still here.”

For more about the Family Justice Center and to donate, click here.


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