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City looks into Family Justice Center

The City of Chattanooga recently received a $240,000 state grant for the research and planning of a Family Justice Center, a resource center for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

In 2011, Tennessee saw more than 85,000 victims of domestic violence. While it may not be apparent in everyday life, domestic violence is an issue that plagues not only the entire state but Chattanooga as well, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Though only at the beginning steps of the process, addressing domestic violence and abuse is a part of Mayor Andy Berke’s agenda, said spokeswoman Lacie Stone.

“Mayor Berke made it clear that public safety is his number one issue and a part of that is domestic violence,” Stone said. “It’s a critical part of his agenda ... it is very important to Berke.”

A Family Justice Center, modeled after similar organizations in cities like Knoxville, would be somewhat of a one-stop resource center for victims of domestic abuse by providing a safe environment for victims affected by abuse while offering services needed to break the cycle, said Stone.

While Stone stressed the allowance of funding is only the beginning of the process, she added that the addition of a Family Justice Center could be a valuable asset to the city.

“This grant will help us address if [a Family Justice Center] suits our cause and how it could impact the city,” Stone added. “[Berke] is committed to engaging in a planning process to establish a family justice center here in Chattanooga.”