OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — The opening of a new family justice center in East Tennessee will make it easier for victims of family violence, sexual assault and exploitation, and elder abuse to find the help they need. Anderson County leaders opened their FJC on Friday, July 9.
The Anderson County Family Justice Center, at 301 Broadway Ave. in Oak Ridge, will serve as a hub for victims to file a police report, make a safety plan, participate in a lethality assessment, connect to an advocate from the YWCA, speak with a victim-witness coordinator from the DA’s office, speak with an attorney, gain assistance in requesting an order of protection, seek assistance with housing, and even access to resumé writing.
“Anderson County is blessed with long-serving and collaborative specialized services in our community —from trained advocates to law enforcement and prosecutors,” Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said. “I am so excited to see the next step in providing services to victims and reducing violence by the establishment of a unified Family Justice Center. I am so appreciative of General Dave Clark and FJC Executive Director Melissa Miller for spearheading this effort. Their boots-on-the-ground commitment and dedicated, hard work creating a coordinated, centralized system and facility will continue to advance our community for years to come.”
Key members of staff include a victim witness coordinator, advocates, assistant district attorneys, a detective from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, and many others available by appointment. In total the Anderson County Family Justice Center has over 19 partner organizations with more partnerships anticipated in the future.
A victim can stop by the FJC Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. with or without an appointment. The goal is to surround them with support and services so that the individual is able to successfully leave a harmful situation and never have to return again because of the support received from the FJC partners.
The FJC works in partnership with the DA’s office, YWCA Knoxville and the TN Valley, Legal Aid, all municipal police departments in Anderson County, the Sheriff’s Office, and mental health service providers, like Ridgeview Behavioral Health, The McNabb Center and Omni Community Health.
“Justice Centers provide much-needed resources that make all communities safer and stronger,” Director Melissa Miller said. “I’ve experienced a truly moving amount of community support … from businesses, both big and small, to local officials, schools, friends, police officers, and people simply passing by on the street near the building. All talk about how needed and welcome this resource is. The FJC is truly a collaboration of support and services from the community as a whole.”
Grant funding was initially awarded to District Attorney General Dave Clark’s Office in 2019 to study the need for an FJC in Anderson County. Since then, the Anderson County Family Justice Center has been awarded two more grants to further sustain the center.
The Anderson County FJC is the second such facility to open up in as many months in East Tennessee. Claiborne County opened its family justice center on June 18 in Tazewell. There are a total of 13 FJCs in the state of Tennessee, including in Knox and Scott counties.