Jordan Allen , The Town Talk | jballen@thetowntalk.com Published 5:20 p.m. CT Jan. 4, 2017

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Through a coordinated response to Central Louisiana’s domestic violence problem, the Family Justice Center of Central Louisiana provided services in 2016 to more than 215 adult victims of domestic abuse, intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

And the Family Justice Center’s Director Preston Mansour says there’s still plenty more work to be done.

“We’ve made a lot of progress since our move,” Mansour said. “But in order to make this the best it can be, there’s more work to be done. (Domestic violence) is an issue that deeply impacts our community, and we’re working to change that.”

The center began offering services in May out of a temporary location. It relocated in November to a permanent home, a building on the property of the former Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville.

Officials said they also served 126 children from May through November, providing services such as one-to-one education for child victims of abuse as well as general care while their parent worked with legal, health care, and community providers.

“Even with our move last year and without any formal advertising, we were able to help so many families,” Mansour said. “Many of the families we helped were referred to us, but it’s important to note that we don’t turn anyone away, and we don’t work strictly on a referral basis. Every person who comes to our door leaves here with some type of service and help. No one gets turned away.”

The nonprofit organization is modeled after other Family Justice Centers around the nation, and has been called “a best practice in the field of domestic violence intervention and prevention services” by the United States Department of Justice.

It primarily aims to assist survivors as they navigate the justice system. But Mansour said the services offered “go far beyond that.”

“We want to be the one-stop shop for survivors of family violence. … A person can come here and know that while they are here, they are safe. Everything they say will be confidential and secure, and we are going to do everything we can to help them,” he said. “If that means helping someone with legal paperwork or filing a protection order, we can do that. If it means providing them with a safe place to stay or a bus ticket to leave town, we will help with that as well.”

According to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 5,000 women living in Louisiana experience domestic violence each year.

Mansour said about half of the survivors who seek help from the Family Justice Center return for more services.

“That tells me that we’re doing something right,” he said. “Someone may come see us two times for two separate, unrelated issues. But the fact that they continue to come to us and trust us to help them, it tells me that we’re making a difference.”

The current on-site partners of the Family Justice Center include Faith House, the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Rapides Parish District Attorney, and NextSTEP of Central Louisiana. Mansour said he hopes to add more in the coming year, specifically a sexual assault counselor and advocate for civil legal services. The center also works with dozens of off-site partners located around Central Louisiana.

“Everything we have done so far, and everything we will continue to do in the coming years is because of this community. This is a team effort, and we can’t do this without the support from Central Louisiana,” Mansour said. “I know we can never eradicate the issue of family violence, but I’m confident that we can make a difference in this area and soon we will start to see the numbers go down. We’re here to help in any way we can.”

Domestic violence resources

The Family Justice Center of Central Louisiana is located at 220 Hospital Blvd. in Pineville. For assistance, call 318-448-0884.

Domestic violence can also be reported to the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence hotline at 1-888-411-1333.

Child abuse and neglect can be reported to the state Department of Child and Family Services at 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437).