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VOL. 127 | NO. 148 | Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jeremy Park

Providing Hope, Healing

By Jeremy Park

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Last week we spotlighted the efforts of the Soulsville Foundation, which funds and operates The Soulsville Charter School, the Stax Music Academy, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. This week let us turn our attention to an organization focused on providing one location that effectively combines civil, criminal, health and social services for victims of domestic violence: the Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County.

The Family Safety Center is a success story for the power of persistence and collaboration. Rather than giving up in 2005 when a federal grant for a family justice center was denied, community leaders, spearheaded by the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission, took it upon themselves to bring the organization to fruition. To create their model, they tapped into the expertise of the Memphis Child Advocacy Center, which utilizes a multi-agency team response to child abuse in Memphis. Together, the group led planning and fundraising efforts and helped bring 23 partner agencies together to serve victims of domestic violence. With their grand opening earlier this year, on April 26, the Family Safety Center is now a reality, providing hope for victims and healing for families.

Similar to drug or alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, or child abuse, domestic violence affects our entire community. It knows no skin color, income level or affiliation of faith. Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of controlling behavior that consists of physical, sexual and/or psychological abuse or assaults committed by one intimate partner against another. It often occurs because a partner wants to control the thoughts, beliefs and conduct of his or her significant other. While the violence is usually directed at a particular victim, everyone suffers – children, families, friends and co-workers.

The Family Safety Center provides a safe haven for victims of domestic violence and offers specially trained navigators, who listen and assess immediate and long-term needs, in order to guide victims to the appropriate resources available to help them. The 23 partner agencies are available on and off-site and collaborate to help with civil and criminal services, like assistance with emergency protective orders, legal advice, court advocacy and prosecution support. The agencies help with health and social services, including safety planning, referrals to confidential emergency shelters, and counseling, along with offering spiritual and chaplain services, as well.

Education and awareness about domestic violence is the key to empowering our citizens to recognize warning signs, realize the danger, report the crime and reach out for help. For this reason, the Family Safety Center provides training to community and corporate groups, which would be a great enrichment opportunity for your team. In terms of helping their efforts, they have a detailed wish list on their website, including cleaning supplies, children’s DVDs, and gift cards. Learn more by visiting www.familysafetycenter.org or calling 222-4400.

Jeremy Park, director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com and followed on Twitter (@lpbreakfastclub) and Facebook (facebook.com/lpbreakfastclub).

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