Thank you to the Sacramento Bee for interviewing us, and for raising awareness of this critical issue in our Sacramento Community.
Check out below for highlights and click on the link for the full article.
Sacramento Bee article- March 25, 2019- by Molly Sullivan
“The Sacramento Regional Family Justice Center, the county’s domestic violence resource hub, is looking to expand in areas where they know there is a need, said Joyce Bilyeu, client services director at the family justice center.
The Family Justice Center, housed in a county building at 3701 Power Inn Rd., has outgrown its space since it opened in 2016, Bilyeu said, and is now looking to expand into Fruitridge and Oak Park.
After it’s opening, the Sacramento area experienced a particularly deadly year for domestic violence victims. In 2017, there were eight fatal domestic violence encounters in the Sacramento area involving the deaths of 14 victims – eight of whom were children, authorities said. All of the adult victims that year in Sacramento were women and most were women of color.
Sacramento had never lost so many children to domestic violence, authorities said. For Bilyeu, it set off “alarm bells.”
The Family Justice Center organizes the county’s domestic violence resources into one hub “so victims only have to tell their story once,” Bilyeu said. It houses counseling services, case managers, law enforcement and legal professionals under one roof, and connects victims with services such as WEAVE, My Sister’s House and a Community for Peace, among others.
“So for example, someone might come in thinking they need a restraining order and they probably do, but they might have a broken jaw and need medical attention so we want to make sure that they get the medical attention first,” Bilyeu explained. “They might have been strangled and haven’t had an exam done there, so we want to do that. They might need shelter that night, so we’ll get them connected with My Sister’s House or Community for Peace by the local shelter programs.”
Victims can also get assistance filing police reports, restraining orders and get transportation for court dates and other important appointments, Bilyeu said.
Residents of Parkway in south Sacramento County have visited the Family Justice Center more than any other Sacramento area neighborhood. Del Paso Heights and South Land Park residents had the second and third highest use of the center, according to data.
Since its opening, the Family Justice Center has served more than 5,000 domestic violence victims, with 3,000 of those being children of victims, according to data collected by the justice center.
Sacramento County Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Paul Durenberger, who heads the domestic violence prosecution team and is on the board for the Family Justice Center, emphasized the importance of programming for children who are abused or witness violence in their home.
“When trauma comes out, usually if it’s untreated, it often comes out in violence,” he said. “And if it’s violence inside of a home, that’s going to impact the next generation. So I think that one of the key things that we need to do as a community is to accept that there are parts of this community that suffer more trauma than others and that we need to be responsive to that.”
One of the ways the Family Justice Center addresses child trauma from domestic violence is by sending them to Camp Hope, a week-long summer camp that focuses on mentoring and trauma-informed programming for kids.
Durenberger attends the camp every year and recalled the experience of one little girl who’d been in a bad domestic violence situation. He described her as “shut down” and “timid.” She was often too afraid to try any of the activities at camp, such as the ropes course, he said, “because she had no self-esteem at all that she could accomplish anything.”
But by the next year, when she arrived at camp, she was a “leader,” cheering on other kids.
“She was like ‘you can do it!’ ” Durenberger said. “ ‘I used to be afraid, don’t be afraid.’ And she attacked the ropes course like nobody’s business the second year. It’s amazing, it’s amazing.”