BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) -- To kick off domestic violence awareness month in Bridgeport, more than 75 community leaders from across the state gathered in the state's largest city to draw attention to the issue.
The focus Thursday was on creating a family justice center in the city that would help make it easier for victims of domestic violence to get the help they need.
"I think the big message today is that help is available and you have a lot of caring professionals and services right here in Bridgeport," said Gael Strack, Family Justice Center Alliance.
Strack and others are trying to make that help more accessible.
"So what happens is a victim gives up and they go back to an abusive situation," said Debra Greenwood, CEO & President of The Center for Women and Families.
Right now The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield county serves about 4,600 victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse each year. However, they know there are many more out there who need their help, so their goal is to turn the building into a justice center for the region so that all of the services victims need will be available under one roof.
"So one place where you can meet the police officer, the prosecutor, the advocate, the civil attorney, a doctor, a therapist, a counselor," Strack said, "it just makes it less daunting and scary for everyone."
Strack says it makes the system easier to navigate, which means more people will reach out for help. And fewer lives will be lost.
"We found that three individuals were from the city of Bridgeport and we always ask our advocates 'were they a client of yours, were you working with them' and what they've identified is that none of the people that lost their lives in the city of Bridgeport knew they could turn to an agency like ours for free help," said Greenwood.
The most important thing they say is getting the word out that the building and the service exists in Bridgeport. It's open Monday through Friday, but there is also a 24-hour hotline available to domestic violence victims.
The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County
203-384-9559 (Domestic Violence)
203-333-2233 (Sexual Assault)
888-568-8332 (Asalto Sexual Linea Directa)
753 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday
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