On average, a domestic abuse survivor must go to nine different locations, fill out 37 pages of paperwork, and repeat their story 27 times. This complicated, often exhausting process leads roughly 80% of survivors to walk away without getting healing, legal, and supportive services.
Domestic violence survivor Audra Toussaint understands this frustration because she’s lived it, noting that “many survivors are simply not able to follow through with the process and tragically end up remaining in a situation that is unsafe or unhealthy.” The newly opened Survivor Resource Center in Charlotte represents a monumental step forward in streamlining and simplifying this disjointed system for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child maltreatment.
Located inside the Children & Family Services Center in Uptown Charlotte, this inclusive center offers a short-term, small-scale solution to the disjointed process survivors can face when they seek help. Partnering organizations represented on-site include Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center, and Safe Alliance. Off-site partners include: Atrium Health Domestic Violence Healthcare Project; Charlotte-Mecklenburg District Attorney’s Office; Mecklenburg County District Court; and the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. Partners will collaborate to address the highest lethality cases on a referral-only basis for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child maltreatment. The center will provide “navigator staff” to guide survivors through the process, which may include services such as the following:
- Safety planning
- Photo injury documentation
- Crisis counseling
- Substance use assessment and counseling
- Economic services
- Parent support
- Forensic interviews for child abuse survivors
- Law enforcement investigations
- Long-term advocacy
The Survivor Resource Center will serve as a precursor for the highly anticipated, comprehensive Charlotte-Mecklenburg Family Justice Center. This center—which will be named The Umbrella Center—will be a larger-scale operation designed to enhance survivor safety and decrease violence throughout the Charlotte community. Projected to open in 2023, The Umbrella Center will offer a variety of walk-in services, including clinical assessment; individual and group therapy; medical exams and evidence collection/documentation; healthcare services; and workshops and community outreach events.
Rashida Gittens, a domestic violence survivor, sees The Umbrella Center as a symbol of hope for survivors in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
“I speak from a position of triumph and love for this initiative because I know anything is possible,” said Gittens. “The Umbrella Center gives me hope.”
For more information about the Survivor Resource Center, visit the center’s website. Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Family Justice Center website to learn more about this longer-range, larger-scale comprehensive center.