OKC's Family Justice Center Opens For Domestic Abuse Victims

Thursday, February 2nd 2017, 3:06 pm
By: News 9

An innovative new project to dramatically reduce domestic violence in our community is now up and running. The Palomar Family Justice Center held its grand opening downtown Thursday.

The YWCA reports Oklahoma currently ranks fourth in the nation for women killed by men, and most of those stem from domestic relationships. The center aims to reverse this trend by becoming a one-stop shop for victim advocacy.

Housing everything from counselors to nurses to child specialists to police, the Palomar building brings together every agency a domestic abuse victim needs to get help.

“In a weird way, we kind of want to be the Google for domestic violence issues,” said OKC Police  Capt. Paco Balderrama.

The police department's entire domestic violence unit has already moved in, with a dozen detectives now calling Palomar home. They say this will be instrumental in fighting a crime that is like no other.

“When you have gang activity, robberies, we can flood the area with police cars and reduce that and affect that positively. It’s very different with domestic abuse,” said Balderrama.

Police have help from the domestic attorney’s office and other legal aids to handle the criminal side, as advocates intervene in dangerous relationships before they turn violent, all in one building.

“Having to go to one side of town for a police report and one side of town for medical care, it is so exhausting, especially for someone who is in a time of crisis and see even where to start when it comes to getting help,” said Palomar’s operations manager, Vanessa Morrison.

Organizers tell News 9 the very first center in San Diego helped that city's domestic violence rate drop 98%, and this model is now widely successful nationwide, including a center in Tulsa that opened in 2006.

“Being able to reach people at an earlier stage in their experience, being able to support people in that time of crisis,” Morrison noted, “so that they don’t have to stay in these relationships longer or feel like there’s no hope for them.”

The center is already seeing clients and you can reach help at (405) 552-1010 or click here.