SPRINGFIELD, Mo. While much of the attention on the recent passage of Greene County's half-cent sales tax centered around the expansion of the county jail, a half-million dollars of that new money will be used to help domestic violence victims.
It is being referred to as a "community of hope" for those who feel overwhelmed and lost after dealing with domestic violence.
It will be called the Family Justice Center and will be housed on the second floor of the Greene Co. Courthouse. It's goal is to bring together law enforcement, attorneys, health care professionals, and abuse counselors among others for a one-stop shop for domestic violence survivors.
Those services are already available individually. The Victim Center, for instance, offers counseling and crisis intervention.The Harmony House, provides shelter, advocacy, and education to survivors. But centralizing the services will keep the victims from having to re-live the stress and trauma over-and-over.
"Every time they have to re-tell their story it's traumatic, it's a trigger, they re-live it," explained Lisa Farmer, the executive director at Harmony House.
"When they've done studies of this you answer 600 questions, many of which are the same place-to-place," added Dan Patterson, Greene County's prosecuting attorney. "That can be very frustrating for a victim and dissuade them from participating in the system."
"If everything can be in one location it just makes it so much easier for them," Farmer adds. "It reduces the likelihood that they're going to just say this is too much and it would just be easier to go back to my abuser."
Organizers also believe the family justice center will help them administer justice to those who commit the domestic abuse, and that the term "community of hope" is an accurate one.
"What people don't realize is that hope is something you actually can measure," Patterson said. "For example, in Tulsa, which has a family justice center, they haven't had one domestic-related homicide of any victim who has been through the family justice center."
The center should be open sometime this year.