Story by: Morgan Boydston
NAMPA — Every minute, national statistics show, nearly 20 people on average are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.
The Nampa Family Justice Center is looking to put an end to those harrowing numbers. Dedicated to ending family violence and sexual assault, the center is a partnership of agencies focusing on prevention and response, all under one roof.
They served 5,500 people last year; 150 of those individuals a month were new clients, with the rest ongoing clients returning for counseling, group support, legal assistance, and case management.
Laura Tyson first came to the center about two and a half years ago. She felt trapped, like she was living a nightmare.
“I was in hell,” Tyson said. “I didn’t know how to get out of it, how to fix it. I lost, like, my compass.”
Verbally, emotionally, physically and financially abused, Tyson says she finally escaped the toxic marriage and sought refuge at the Nampa Family Justice Center.
“I literally lost everything from the short time I was with this man,” she added.
She was given tools, legal help with a protection order and divorce, gas cards so she could drive to job interviews, an intensive 14-week pattern-changing class, and so much more: she received hope.
“Now you have hope,” Tyson said. “When you had no hope, you’re in a fog. You just want some sort of normalcy and it’s spiraling out of control and you come here and it’s like, snap, they got you… they got you.
“I have a great job now, a home, savings,” she added. “I have a very wonderfully routine life. It’s predictable, because domestic violence is all about unpredictability – you have no idea what you’re going home to.”
Tyson and victims of domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual assault, elder abuse, and stalking pay nothing for services the agencies at the center provide.
“We’re very careful to not tell clients what they need to do or have to do, but what do they want to do by providing information and options for them,” said Jeannie Strohmeyer, the client services coordinator at the center. “What happens is, often we can help in the crisis but when we just deal with crisis we’re not helping people get out of the cycle.”
“Part of what we do is say how can we help people step out of the cycle and stop that pattern of behavior,” she added. “And so that’s where counseling and group support comes in.”
Having advocates, case workers, Nampa Police Department detectives and officers, victim witness coordinators, Idaho Legal Aid, Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s office, Idaho Department of Health & Welfare, medical providers from St. Luke’s and Boise State University, and more in one centralized location – just down the hall from each other – makes the world of difference.
“Our clients stay in the room and agencies come to clients in the room,” Strohmeyer said. “It’s surprising how helpful it is. The systems are very separate and don’t talk to each other so when you have them all in one building and have good relationships then what happens is people can talk to each and make a phenomenal difference in cases.”
Donations and grants – as well as the City of Nampa – help the center provide all of this.
“They need this funding. That’s how they helped me,” Tyson told KTVB. “We need this place.”
The center was chosen by the Allstate Foundation to take part in the Purple Purse Challenge – a nation-wide fundraiser dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence through financial empowerment.
According to Strohmeyer, many victims stay in abusive relationships because of financial difficulties and financial abuse.
“We also want to deal with how can we help you financially move forward,” Strohmeyer added.
“The most important thing is to get out,” Tyson said. “Get out now. Don’t stay another day. Start your life over again. Come here and let them help you.”
All money raised in the Purple Purse Challenge stays with the participating agencies – all of which are domestic violence nonprofits – and puts them in the running for larger donations from the Allstate Foundation. As of Wednesday night, the Nampa Family Justice Center was sitting at about $19,700 with a $25,000 goal. You can donate on their Crowdrise page.