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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.

APD: To Stop Taggers, Report Graffiti Immediately

The approach is inventive and aggressive – and the mission is clear: Discourage taggers from vandalizing the city.

City Councilman Harry Sidhu and Police Chief John Welter join ACAGE members in painting over graffiti

City Councilman Harry Sidhu and Police Chief John Welter join ACAGE members in painting over graffiti

The message is just as clear: To be successful, police officers, city leaders, business owners and residents must work together.

“Graffiti is a complicated problem,” said Sherri Vander Dussen, Anaheim’s planning director. “We need to have a lot of people involved in the solution. You can’t assume that one answer that prevents one kid from doing graffiti is going to prevent another.”

For 18 months, a cross-section of city officials and community members bound together as the Anaheim Community Anti-Graffiti Effort (ACAGE) have addressed the issue. Most recently, volunteers armed with paint brushes “cleaned up” the Balsam/Curtis/Banyan area of the city. And on Saturday, state Sen. Lou Correa led another ACAGE effort.

“This is the first program of its kind in the city and involves adopting a city neighborhood under a one-year commitment to clean up graffiti, shopping carts and other eye sores,” wrote Victor Dominguez, an Anaheim Rotary member, in a recent Anaheim Bulletin article.

The effort also includes finding new ways to make targets less vulnerable, educating children about the perils of vandalism and encouraging prosecution.

Already, the program has touched more than 10,000 residents.

“I’m very pleased to see the progress we’ve made so far,” said Police Chief John Welter, who has led the effort. “And I’m even more excited about the progress we’re going to make over the next six months.”

To report graffiti, call 3-1-1 or (714) 765-4311.

“We’ve learned that the faster that graffiti is removed the less likely it is to recur,” said Vander Dussen.

For more information about the program’s goals, click here to read an informative article in the current edition of Anaheim magazine.

Please join us at our next meeting. It’s scheduled for Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. at the Anaheim Family Justice Center, 150 W. Vermont Avenue.

And stay tuned for updates on this important initiative.

Anaheim Police Department Honored for Outstanding Community Programs

The Chief’s Advisory Board. The Gang Reduction and Innovation Partnership. Cops for Kids.

The Orange County Human Relations Commission recently honored the Anaheim Police Department for its outstanding combination of community-based programs.

“We are committed to maintaining open lines of communication with the community and doing our part to contributing to Anaheim’s continued success,” said Police Chief John Welter.