PINEVILLE, La. (KALB) – Advocates and survivors are raising awareness around domestic violence and abuse issues. The Family Justice Center held a community event recognizing domestic violence awareness month. People enjoyed a free nacho bar, face painting, jumpers, and The Faith House made goodie bags for guests. The organization is letting people know they do not have to suffer from domestic violence and abuse.
Volunteers, community leaders, and Alexandria Senior High School MCJROTC Cadets gathered to celebrate survivors. “We just want to celebrate survivors and let them know that we’re here for them, and we want to serve them in any way we can,” Family Justice Center Executive Director Carly Long said. Long explained they wanted to put this event on for the community to celebrate survivors. Before the pandemic they would hold a walk to honor survivors during October. Long said The Family Justice Center felt bummed about the change of plans, but they couldn’t go the whole month without doing something.
One Cenla domestic violence survivor and advocate previously shared her story with us.
“For the family justice center to put this on shows that we have so many survivors around us that got out,” Domestic violence survivor Jennifer Roberts said. “They were able to reach out to The Family Justice Center and say, ‘I need help,’ and they got it here.”
“Domestic violence is not just an individual, it’s an epidemic in our communities,” Roberts said. “And one of the things that I have done with my story coming out of Vernon Parish, Louisiana is I’ve turned my case into a case that not only affects just one person but is an advocacy for change for multiple men and women.”
According to Roberts love is not supposed to hurt. She explained love is supposed to be uplifting. “The biggest thing that we need to change is the way that we perceive domestic violence, it’s not to be tolerated, it’s not to be taboo. It should be brought out into the light,” She said.
Roberts said The Family Justice Center is shining the light onto domestic violence and abuse.
“Domestic violence doesn’t start overnight. It starts slowly. And the biggest thing is, people need to know that it’s never too late to get out,” Roberts said. “Even if you’re afraid, even if you think that no one can understand your situation, the thing that you need to understand is that you are never alone.”
Roberts shared domestic violence and abuse facts citing Amnesty International.
- One in four women and men will suffer some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime.
- More than 90,000 people in Louisiana will present to emergency rooms with signs of domestic abuse, per year.
“That is totally unacceptable,” Roberts said. “That’s why I do what I do as far as advocacy, not only here, but in Washington D.C., to try to get lawmakers to make changes to affect laws that protect men and women in our communities, to bring it out of the closet and into the light for the community.” Roberts said the event today was great because it brings community awareness and shows there is a great amount of support in the community for domestic survivors.
The Family Justice Center is here to help anyone in need. “It’s all about loving and serving others and I’m a strong believer in that. I feel like that’s what we’re doing here today we’re loving others and serving others,” Long explained.
SH MCJROTC Cadet and Domestic Violence Survivor Krislyn Rivers is a 17-year-old domestic violence survivor.
“I didn’t know this place existed, but now I have a resource,” Rivers said. “I didn’t have anybody to help me, but now I have all these people that are willing to come out and support the community and support the people of this community. I just think that’s a wonderful thing to have especially as a person who’s been in a dark place, who has been through something traumatic like that.”
According to Rivers ASH’s MCJROTC came out to help their community by reaching out to those affected by domestic violence.
“Thank God for those people, who are there who want to help people, who try to understand, even though they can’t, but it does get better,” Rivers said. “You have the power. You get out of that situation, whatever situation you may be in, and you help yourself. Whether it be spending the night at friend’s house, taking your kids, whatever it may be. I feel like the most important thing is to get you and your family safe.”
Rivers explained experiencing a feeling of not having anyone there for her.
“It’s just the feeling is of hopelessness, it really is. A lot of people don’t understand what it’s like, but they want to help.” When Rivers arrived at The Family Justice Center and saw everyone, she became emotional. “It feels really great. When I got here, and people started showing up I almost cried.” Seeing everyone willingly come to support the community moved Rivers to have a great sense of stronghold. What she described as a great feeling.
The organization partners with local law enforcement to help domestic abuse survivors. The Family Justice Center also works with other Cenla organizations to help stop domestic violence and abuse and help survivors heal.
Long’s message to the community she serves is, “There’s someone that hears, sees and supports you. Reach out to someone rather it’s a friend, a family member or call us. Everything’s kept confidential. We would love to help in any way we can.”
Roberts said that if you can give any support to The Family Justice Center it would make a difference.
“Even if it’s just donating supplies for women or men that are on the run because it doesn’t just affect women, there are men that are abused as well,” Roberts explained. “I think sometimes that’s forgotten. But even if it’s toiletries, things like diapers for women with children that are on the run. All those things can be donated to the center, along with contributions that can help the center stay open.”
So, celebrate the color purple that represents domestic violence, and spread the word that The Family Justice Center needs all the support they can get for survivors. If you need help, please call The Family Justice Center at (318) 448-0884. If you would like to donate to the family justice center in any way possible click here. They are open five days a week and have an on-call program on the weekends.