Story by: Rob Roth

Victims of domestic violence in Contra Costa County have a place to go to for help when they need it most. The Family Justice Center in Antioch offers survivors many services under one roof.

One domestic violence survivor said she wishes these new services were there for her when her husband abused her 8 years ago. She said getting help with restraining orders, housing, and mental health was difficult because the services were spread out.

“Concord, Martinez, Richmond, Oakland. All around the area. Try to get the resources. At the time I had no car with my babies with me. It was tough,” said Marisol Martinez.

But that’s now changed in Contra Costa County.

Martinez was among those celebrating the opening of the new Family Justice Center in Antioch for victims of domestic violence who live in the eastern part of the county. Similar centers are open in Richmond and Concord.

“She just has to come and meet with our navigator who is a single point of contact. And we have mental health services, victim’s advocacy, yoga classes, educational programs,” said Susun Kim, Executive Director of the Family Justice Center.

This is the third center to open in Contra Costa County, making the county the first county in the nation to have a county-wide network of services available to domestic violence victims.

“Seeking out metal health services, seeking out how to do a restraining order, seeking out all the things you have to do to protect yourself and your children if you have them can be daunting,” said Janell Coleman, a domestic abuse survivor.

Social service workers say the new center will streamline services and avoid the numerous interviews that are often traumatizing for victims. They also say reports of domestic violence are on the rise.

“Violence is preventable. Like many diseases, it’s a public health issue. So we are promoting social connectedness and trying to pull more resources together to prevent violence,” says Kim.

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