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Family Justice Center opens doors to victims
justice center
Domestic violence victim Katherine Carmichael is ready to release a dove in front of the new Family Justice Center in Modesto to symbolize a scared abused woman being set free.

Lashawn Kirvin was a victim of domestic violence. She sought out help but like many women, was afraid to leave her abusive husband. Prosecution wasn’t enough to keep her safe, and in 1995, her husband killed her.

Like Kirvin, many people are afraid to go through all the legality and courts to keep them safe from the person abusing them and sometimes prosecution just isn’t enough.

“Just prosecuting them wasn’t stopping the domestic violence,” said Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager, District Attorney. “Traditional ways of dealing with it were not working.”

Now, with the opening of the new Family Justice Center, Fladager is hoping that it will prevent more incidents like the one Kirvin went through.

“If we had an agency like this, it could have helped her,” she said.

The new Family Justice Center in Modesto celebrated their grand opening on Friday with over 200 people from police officers to community members to district attorneys in attendance to take a tour and see what the Center is all about.

The new center will be open for business on Nov. 1 and will be a one-stop location for victims of violence, sexual assault, child and elder abuse, making it the only Family Justice Center in the area.

The one-stop location will make it easier for victims to seek all the help they need from filing a restraining order to legal services to counseling. Before the center women would have to travel to numerous agencies in order to seek help. Now they can go to one location.

Katherine Carmichael remembers when she needed help 13 years ago when she was a victim of domestic violence. She would have to walk from agency to agency to protect her and her children. They even dubbed one agency the “long line” place.

“For someone as scared as I was and being told you are worthless day after day then you have to go to building to building and tell your story over and over again to get help,” she said. “It is hard.”

But she was willing to go from agency to agency in order to keep her and her children out of harm’s way.

“I didn’t want my daughter to grow up thinking that it is OK to be treated like that,” Carmichael said.

Now with the new Family Justice Center she believes that “we can help a woman stand up on her own two feet and help her children,” she said.

The Center will have over 10 agencies inside to help victims. Inside there are multiple child interview rooms, observation rooms, behavioral health and recovery services, Haven Women’s Center, an interview room, a District Attorney’s office, a civil attorney’s office, Sheriff’s Office and more. There is also a child care center.

The Family Justice Center is located at 1625 I St., in Modesto. For more information contact the Justice Center at 525-5550.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.