Story by: David Briley and Diane Lance
The center brings together, under one roof, Nashville government and nonprofit service providers a victim might need to navigate a terrifying time.
When you walk into Nashville’s new Family Safety Center, you quickly see a single word written in 28 different languages: welcome.
Underlying the innovative spaces and sensitive design of Metro government’s newest facility is an intimate greeting for anyone who has experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse or human trafficking. In the midst of trauma, that quiet and comforting word rings clearly: victims and survivors are welcome here, and they will be heard–and helped.
The Family Safety Center, which recently opened at 610 Murfreesboro Pike as one of the largest, most comprehensive family justice centers in the United States, makes a powerful statement about the priority our city places on public safety. It brings together, under one roof, the government and nonprofit service providers a victim might need to navigate a terrifying time.
Victims’ feelings of hope increased
Advocates with the Metro Office of Family Safety are here. So are Metro police detectives and counselors. So is the Nashville Children’s Alliance, which relocated its entire staff, as well as representatives of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, the Davidson County District Attorney General’s Office, the Sexual Assault Center, YWCA, Agape, Mary Parrish Center and Legal Aid Society.
The facility builds on the success of its sister location, Metro’s Jean Crowe Advocacy Center, a court-based family justice center. Victim surveys show that since opening in 2014 in the Justice A.A. Birch Building, the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center has dramatically increased victims’ feelings of hope and support while significantly reducing fear and nervousness.
The Family Safety Center’s convenient location and increased number of service providers make getting help–entirely confidential and free–easier than ever before. The trauma-informed design of the building keeps the needs of both adults and children front and center.
There’s an exciting play space shaped like a glass pyramid in the client living room for children who arrive with adult victims. This play pyramid creates a fun space for kids to thrive – the type of space kids will ask parents to come back to, meaning more opportunities to increase safety and healing.
Nashville is a model for other cities
Numerous “support rooms,” where advocates and counselors meet with individuals who need help, are cozy, inviting and private, filled with homey furnishings, cheerful fabrics and art. And at the center of the building is a fireplace surrounded by books and framed photographs. We believe these warm, personal features reduce trauma and stress, making it easier to receive help and support.
As the Family Safety Center’s services become more widely known, we expect demand for them to increase quickly. Based on other cities’ experiences, we made sure the building was designed with room to grow.
Other cities are already looking at the work Nashville is doing. The Family Safety Center and the partnerships that make it possible have become models for places such as Charlotte, North Carolina.
“It’s clear, through the kind of collaboration necessary to build its Family Safety Center, Nashville-Davidson (County) has positioned itself as a national leader in offering victim-centered solutions to domestic and child violence,” said District Attorney Spencer B. Merriweather III of Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, who recently toured the facility with 21 other community leaders.
We’re proud to lead in this area. But it makes us feel even better to restore hope in the lives of those who need it most.
David Briley is the eighth mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. Diane Lance is director of the Metro Office of Family Safety.
Posted on March 12, 2019 at 12:31 pm