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Expanding services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Ventura County

$1.6 million federal funding has been secured to expand services offered at Ventura County Family Justice Center
Caroline Feraday
/
KCLU
$1.6 million federal funding has been secured to expand services offered at Ventura County Family Justice Center

$1.6 million of federal funding has been secured to expanding the Family Justice Center

It’s unusual for the people in this building to have cause for celebration. It’s a place for those who are impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, human trafficking, hate crimes and other violent crimes to come and find help. But a recent $1.6 million in federal funding will enable The Family Justice Center in Ventura to expand their services.

"The idea is to make sure that people have a place where they feel protected and safe. When people come here, they are not able to think long term. They are scared they're in fight or flight mode. And so the first thing to do is to make them feel safe and then make them feel heard," explains Paul Bujold, executive director of Ventura County Legal Aid, of the wrap around services provided at the center.

One of those being shown around the center is Democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara, who recently secured $1.6 million in funding for the center.

"People that are in a domestic violence circumstance oftentimes feel helpless and feel that there's no way out. And this center, these services, the people that work here will be able to provide that safety net, that access, that support to help people know that they have a way out. It's something that we need to address in an urgent way. And this $1.66 million that I was able to get through the appropriations process is going to go a long way in continuing to expand and enhance those services. It will continue to uplift the community of the city of Ventura and Ventura County, " said Rep. Carbajal.

Last year, Democratic Congresswoman Julia Brownley of Westlake Village secured $640,000 in federal funding for the county’s Family Justice Center’s new location in Oxnard.

"What they're doing is really saving lives, honestly, these are people who have gone through huge amounts of trauma in their lives, and they have a place to come. This is men and women, but it's predominantly women - and women who can bring their children, stay together as a unit to a safe place that will give them whatever they need, whether it's a cell phone or clothes on their back or food, obviously a place to sleep and with a roof over their head. It is so critically important," said Rep Brownley.

Providing victims a safe place to go, and help in navigating the system is one large part of the jigsaw when it comes to tackling domestic and sexual violence, but not the whole puzzle. What about the pursuit of justice when it comes to the perpetrators? Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko says that is another piece of support which is available here.

"Domestic violence encompasses so many different types of trauma. Emotional, psychological, physical, financial, sexual," said Nasarenko.

"Individuals are being battered not just physically, but in psychological ways as well. What they require, first and foremost, is dignity from this system. Someone to listen to them. Someone who cares. Someone who'll understand what they're going through. That's why the Family Justice Center and the concept of a nearby domestic violence shelter is so critical," he said.

"We also have a prosecutor here so we can begin the prosecution effort early on. 'What's your case look like?' How do I hopefully assure your cooperation as we move forward? Because oftentimes the abuse will go back to the abuser. So by placing everybody here, we are allowing people to have one stop all wraparound services in one location," he said.

If you need support or more information, the Family Justice Center offers free assistance.

If you need help or information between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, call (805) 652-7655, text (805) 947-7981, or email vcfjc.coop@ventura.org. If you need assistance after hours, 2-1-1 Info Link Ventura County is available 24/7 via phone or at www.211ventura.org. This is a free confidential service that connects people across Ventura County to the resources they need. Call, click or text 2-1-1 to be connected. If you need emergency assistance please call 9-1-1.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 10 Golden Mike Awards, 5 Los Angeles Press Club Awards, 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Writing.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for eleven years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.