The New Orleans Family Justice Center Alliance is a partnership of agencies dedicating to ending family violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and stalking by providing comprehensive client-centered empowerment services in a single location.
Katherine is 24. Her baby Jaden is eight months. It’s because of Jaden that Katherine has turned her life around. She’s given up prostituting, and she’s working toward getting her GED. Katherine wants Jaden to have a good life. And she has no intention of losing him to Child Protective Services – something she’s experienced.
“I was raised with my mom, but my mom was abusive in so many ways,” recalls Katherine. “We got taken away and I got put in my uncle’s house and um, he did some stuff so…”
Katherine has a long history of abuse.
“I got abused sexually, mentally and emotionally, and physically in foster care. It wasn’t something I want my son to go through. So that’s what brought me here,” says Katherine – to the New Orleans Family Justice Center.
“If it wasn’t for my son I’d still be prostituting,” confesses Katherine. “I would still be prostituting. Still making the money. Money’s great but the things I do for it’s not.”
“I often look upon our agency as a beacon that can take someone from crisis to confidence,” says Sharon Henry, the community outreach coordinator at the New Orleans Family Justice Center. The Center provides free, wrap-around services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Whatever a client needs, the Family Justice Center makes sure she gets it. They partner with civil and legal attorneys, offer trauma recovery, job assistance, and also art classes.
“We were talking about whether Katherine liked art,” says Ashley Ponson, Katherine’s case manager at the Family Justice Center. “I thought it would be good.”
“Yeah, I love art,” confirms Katherine. “I wanted to show you something,” she adds.
Katherine whips out a picture on her cell phone.
“I made it myself.”
“Nice job,” says Ponson, looking at the picture. “You got tomatoes in there.”
“Tomatoes, strawberries, avocado, cucumbers, broccoli, turkey. It was delicious.”
“That’s what we were talking about. It’s really great. You need to eat good healthy food, instead of just not eating. That’s awesome.”
Whatever help a person needs – from nutrition to therapy to resume building – Sharon Henry says the New Orleans Family Justice Center is here for the community, for anyone who’s been abused.
“Domestic violence has no face. It looks like you and I,” says Henry. “If you know of someone or if anyone who is listening is in need of services: silence: we need to break the silence.”
Written by Eve Abrams for the Community IMPACT Series and produced by WWNO in partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Learn more about the New Orleans Family Justice Center Alliance.