• The Capital Area Family Justice Center, which will provide a “one-stop shop” for victims of domestic violence in East Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes, has officially opened its doors.

    Two years after a portion of criminal justice reform savings were allocated to the parish for a victim services center, various agencies and advocates have joined forces to provide assistance to survivors seeking help, all under one roof.

  • The center opens amid heightened domestic violence rates and intimate partner homicides in the parish this past year. Already 744 victims have filed for a temporary restraining order in family court; 201 have received permanent orders, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
  • Officials and advocates hope the center will help curb some of the violence by providing an easy avenue of support for victims.

    “Too often when serving those in need, those who are already so incredibly vulnerable, those who have already been through so much, we inadvertently add to their burden by sending them to another service provider across town, then another, and another,” said Renee Craft, the executive director of the center.

    Law enforcement agencies, including Baton Rouge Police and the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, will work with advocacy groups to provide resources and legal services in a single location on Government Street.

    Placing these agencies and groups in one location will ideally prevent further trauma, according to John Price, the executive director of The IRIS Domestic Violence Center.

    “[Victims] have to tell their story 10 times sometimes,” he said. “By putting everybody in a one-shop area, it stops re-victimizing that victim, because every time they tell their story they’re reliving it.”

  • Price said survivors will no longer have to navigate a “maze” of services providers, figure out transportation or worry about child care for multiple visits from one location to the next.

    “It takes energy, effort and courage in order to seek out those services, and if you can’t, especially in a pandemic, if you’re living with your abuser, it’s really difficult to find opportunities to even report abuse,” he said.

    Inside the old brick building on Government Street, most of the cushions and accent decorations are purple, the color for domestic violence awareness. This is only one building in a sprawling complex that all relate to violence prevention, stretching further back into the adjoining neighborhood.