January 21, 2014 – The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County officially changed its name to The Center for Family Justice at a public policy breakfast Tuesday in its Bridgeport headquarters. On hand for the event were a host of politicians, including U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal; U.S. Representative Jim Himes; State Senator Andres Ayala, Jr.; and State Representatives Brenda Kupchick and Tony Hwang. Cindi Bigelow, president of Bigelow Tea Company and community champion for The Center for Family Justice, was also present.
The Center for Family Justice will now join with community partners – police, prosecutors, community-based advocates, the Council of Churches and social services groups – to offer all survivor services under one roof, in The Center’s headquarters at 753 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport. In addition to the city, The Center serves Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull. This is Connecticut’s first FJC, and the nation’s 82nd.
“There are few problems that are as pernicious or as devastating or that have the long-lasting effects that sexual violence or domestic violence do,” said Himes. “A child that has grown up in the atmosphere of domestic violence is much more likely to become a perpetrator. That generational carry-through is something we reject as a society. There aren’t a lot of certainties and consistencies in the area of social services, but one of the few is that if you can empower and strengthen and support women, the outcomes are dramatic. And this is true everywhere. In Egypt. In Pakistan. Here. If you can raise up and empower women, children do better, economies do better, societies are more stable, the outcomes are irrefutably better. You have distilled that idea in this program. I think this is really important.”
“This crisis of family violence can be solved, can be addressed, but we need to begin with the men,” said Blumenthal. “Men are ninety-four to ninety-five of the perpetrators, the folks most responsible for family violence. … Domestic violence is a cycle. Seventy-three to seventy-eight percent of the men who commit domestic violence have been victims. They see it. They feel it. They repeat it.”
The Center will continue to offer crisis intervention, advocacy, shelter placement, case management, counseling, safety, education and employment planning, emotional support and childcare when parents are receiving services. It is the partners that will be joining The Center that will offer the wrap-around services, such as legal, medical, holistic and spiritual to help to make survivors’ stronger, self-sufficient and no longer dependent on their abuser.
“I have been involved with the Center for over 15 years,” Bigelow said. “I remember that a guest speaker at one of the first events I attended was a female doctor from Fairfield who shared a personal story of abuse. It is something I will never forget. Her story, as well as others that have followed are what that make me extremely proud to help champion the new and comprehensive services that will now be offered under one roof by the creation of the Center for Family Justice.”
“Forming The Center for Family Justice Center has been a team effort that started a number of years ago,” explained Debra Greenwood, CEO and President of The Center. She also cited the $1.2 million state bond – championed by Ayala – that The Center just received, which will pay for needed improvements to the building, including a new HVAC system, tighter security both in and outside the building, and a new parking lot and fencing.
The Center’s model is based on the first FJC that opened in San Diego, Calif., in 2002. Documented FJC outcomes include: reduced homicides; increased community support services; reduced fear, anxiety and recantation and increased safety, autonomy and empowerment for those suffering from domestic and sexual violence; increased prosecution of offenders; and reduced costs because of co-location and streamlining the process.
Approximately one-third of the criminal cases in the court system in Connecticut involve family violence. Nationwide it is estimated that only 25 percent of domestic abuse cases are reported to police.
“Survivors will now have the resources to help them and their children live better lives without financial, verbal, emotional and physical/sexual abuse,” Greenwood added.”
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR FAMILY JUSTICE
The Center for Family Justice (formerly The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County Inc.) brings all domestic and sexual assault services – police, prosecutors, civil/legal providers, community advocates – under one roof. Although our name has changed, we will continue with the work we have provided for almost 120 years, helping those touched by domestic and sexual violence and child abuse obtain free, confidential, bilingual crisis services in Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull. Additionally, each year, The Center teaches more than 7,000 children and teens about how to build healthy relationships, the dangers of bullying and how to prevent dating violence; answers more than 2,000 calls on its 24-hour crisis hotline; assists with the civil and criminal court processes for more than 3,000 survivors of domestic violence; responds to more than 300 survivors of sexual assault and their families; provides a safe home for more than 100 women and children fleeing domestic abuse; and coordinates the investigations of more than 100 cases of child sexual and severe physical abuse, developing service plans for the young survivors and their families. For more information, visit www.centerforfamilyjustice.org.