October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Data from the Partnership for Family, Children, and Adults shows there were 69,000 domestic violence incidents reported across Tennessee in 2020. Ninety of those victims died.
Regina McDevitt, the executive director for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Family Justice Center said historically, the Volunteer State has reported a high amount of violence against partners.
“Out of the last 20-plus years, Tennessee has ranked in the top 10 for murders committed by men on women,” said McDevitt.
In Chattanooga, advocates and law enforcement are working together to change those statistics. McDevitt said the Family Justice Center worked with the Partnership and law enforcement to create a ‘lethality assessment’. This is an 11 question survey officers complete when they respond to a domestic violence call. These answers help identify high risk indicators for homicide. If a victim has a certain score, officers immediately call the Partnership Crisis Hotline. The victim is then offered shelter to get out of the situation.
They’ve also created a ‘High Risk Intervention Team’. It includes law enforcement, the Family Justice Center, the Partnership, Legal Aid, Child Protective Services, and the District Attorney’s Office. This team meets monthly to identify the highest risk cases and addresses what needs to happen to keep them from slipping through the cracks.
“At the end of the day it helps hold the perpetrator accountable for the abuse, but it also supports the victim in receiving services,” said McDevitt.
When it comes to resources, the Family Justice Center has 12 agencies on site. They offer free services to help survivors leave abusive relationships, when they’re ready.
“We can help you get on that path. Victims go back four to seven times before they leave for good. We know it’s a journey, it’s a process. They don’t always leave for good the first time and that’s ok. Knowing how to get help and planting those seeds for safety are key,” said McDevitt.
The Family Justice Center is located at 5705 Uptain Road in Chattanooga. It’s open Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:00pm. Anyone needing help can walk-in at any time.
The Partnership for Families, Children and Adults Crisis Hotline number is (423) 755-2700 and available 24/7.
Click here for more information on the agencies at the Family Justice Center and the free services they offer.
Source: Heather Holley, Original Article Here