By Editorial Simi Valley Acorn
All too often, women, children and even men living in harm’s way suffer in silence as fear, confusion and lack of access to resources discourage them from getting help. Typically, authorities only become aware of domestic violence or sexual abuse after a crisis situation has occurred.
This is where the Ventura County Family Justice Center on Loma Vista Road in Ventura comes in. The center opened in March 2019 to provide a safe place where victims can find the support they need to break the cycle of family violence and move forward with their lives. All services are offered at no cost.
In a presentation to the Simi Valley City Council on May 17, Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko talked about what his office is doing to address crime and assist victims. (See story on Page 1.)
All under one roof, the justice center provides help for victims of human trafficking, child, elder and domestic abuse, sexual assault and hate crimes.
Services offered include legal advice, law enforcement help, mental health care and temporary housing. Public agencies, community-based organizations and volunteers work in partnership with authorities to help reduce trauma, eliminate repeat victimization, mitigate future risks and make a lasting, positive difference in the lives of victims and their families, the center’s website states.
To help sexual assault and child abuse victims in the East County, the DA’s office operates Safe Harbor, a multidisciplinary interview center adjacent to Adventist Health Simi Valley.
The center operates out of a house provided by the hospital and offers a comfortable, secure and confidential environment where victims can meet with advocates from the district attorney’s office and obtain assistance with housing, restraining orders, crime victim compensation applications and crisis counseling. They can also talk with a detective, who may take a police report, and be evaluated by a sexual assault nurse examiner.
Each year, the DA’s office receives 25,000 to 27,000 police reports for review from local law enforcement agencies. The reports cover the crime gamut, from homicides to assaults to DUIs. For victims, navigating the justice system can be intimidating. We applaud the DA for taking steps to make sure much-needed services are available.
For more information about these services, visit vcfjc.org or call (805) 652-7655 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To learn more about Safe Harbor, go online to tinyurl.com/simisafeharbor.