Healing and Hope: What Domestic Violence Survivors Need to Know

by Jill Smialek , Manager of Family Justice Center and Witness/Victim Services
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Community groups across our region encourage us to take a stand against intimate partner violence and to show our support by wearing purple ribbons throughout the month. Even the Terminal Tower is lit with bright purple lights periodically throughout October to encourage a greater civic conversation about domestic violence.  Cuyahoga County proudly joins this campaign and pledges its support for all victims of domestic violence. 

But we do more than that. Cuyahoga County’s Department of Public Safety & Justice Services operates the Family Justice Center in partnership with the City of Cleveland and multiple nonprofits. The Family Justice Center is a place where victims can come to a safe environment and access all the services available to them. The professionals at the center work to untangle the red tape that can come with trying to navigate a complex system. At the Center, services are coordinated, and communication among all of the professionals who touch a case is streamlined and more efficient.  Professionals at the Center help with safety planning, protection orders, and criminal cases. 

At the Family Justice Center, Cuyahoga County’s Witness/Victim advocates assist with cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and elder abuse. Advocates stand by their clients and bolster their voices, answering questions and seeking information from police, prosecutors and the courts. For a domestic violence victim, who is already feeling vulnerable and afraid, seeking advice can feel like it is simply too hard. Asking for help and taking steps to live a healthier, safer life takes bravery. Victims are encouraged to reach out to the Center. You don’t need an appointment and all services are free. 

Call us at 216-443-7345 during business hours or drop in at 75 Erieview Plaza, 5th Floor, Cleveland, Ohio 44114. We are open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  All calls after business hours are returned the next business morning. There is also a 24-hour support line offered through the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center.  That number is 216-391-HELP.  We encourage all callers to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency. 

Domestic violence impacts people of all ages, ethnicities, and incomes. While many people label it as a “woman’s issue”,  and the Center for Disease Control estimates that one in four women will experience domestic violence within their life time, it also impacts one in seven men. Domestic violence is not about strength or the ability of one person to physically harm another. Domestic violence is about power and control.  Yes, the violence can be physical, but it can also be emotional. It consists not just of assault, but of threats, isolation and manipulation.  You don’t have to see injuries on someone’s body to know domestic violence is far too prevalent in our community. 

You can help end domestic violence. Talk with your friends about the issue. Teach young men and boys about domestic violence and ask them to stand with you against it. Stand up for someone who needs help. And, remember that we are here to help.