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BOSSIER CITY, La. — Domestic violence has been on the rise since the pandemic began. Stress, financial difficulties and being isolated inside homes have made tense situations even more dangerous for some. So, for those is in a violent or abusive home situation, who should they call?

The Northwest Louisiana Family Justice Center is one place to start. The center, which is an off-shoot of the Bossier Parish District Attorney’s Office, serves a nine-parish area and is a collaboration among private and public agencies to help those in trouble.

The center makes services more accessible to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and exploitation.

“The Family Justice Center offers a wonderful buffering system for those victims,” said Assistant District Attorney Santi Parks. “They offer financial assistance, counseling. There are law enforcement officers here who assist them with the protective order system, offer them guidance on those.”

In some situations, victims are reluctant to go through the process of leaving the situation because they fear retribution. And in other cases, the victim finds it hard to believe that she has been in an abusive situation. Staff at the NWLA Family Justice Center frequently have to use what’s known as the power and control wheel to help victims understand that they are in danger and are not alone in their struggle.

“The power and control wheel is a symbol that we use. A lot of times a survivor does not realize that she’s been in it,” said Jeri Bowen, the director of the NWLA Family Justice Center. “It’s like eight to 12 words that show a domestic violence situation whether it’s financial, the children, the family— they keep you from family members and things like that. And when you put that in front of someone and they see the pieces of the pie, per se, they realize, oh that has been happening to me and I never realized it.”

For help to escape a domestic violence situation, call the NWLA Family Justice Center at 318-584-7171.

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