Family violence places enormous stress on families and, left unchecked, often creates a ripple effect that can be carried forward by future generations. Family violence can affect all aspects of a person’s well being and typically leaves its victims filled with fear, confusion and self doubt.
It is unreasonable to then expect family violence victims to independently navigate a myriad of separately located agencies/services and make good decisions for themselves and their families. The cycle of family violence needs to be stopped and stopped in a way that makes sense for the victims. Our systems of support and plans to offer assistance must be victim-driven.
The fundamental principle of this model is that at a time of stress and fear, people are able to make better decisions for their families if they don't also have to use their limited emotional, physical and financial resources to navigate a maze of services.
With this focus, on January 1st 2006, a collaborative of agencies presently representing well over one hundred professionals began providing wrap around, seamless service delivery in a holistic response to family violence from a single location.
Our goal is to assist victims and their families by providing essential services and multiple access points and choices all at one location. Each of the 10 co-located agencies/services continues to be independently operated and managed but is committed to strengthening their services to clients through collocation of their entire service or as a satellite office.
The Family Violence Project, the first of its kind in Canada, was inspired by a model that was developed in San Diego. Victims of family violence walked in the front door of their Family Justice Centre, each taking that very difficult first step to seeking assistance. The victims reported on their terms, choosing not to call 9-1-1, access an emergency services communication centre or have uniformed police officers attend at their residence. We, here in Waterloo Region, are experiencing a similar trend with a growing number of victims simply walking in the front door.
The Partners will continue to build their relationships within CFCC as well as with other agencies and services within the Region in order that a truly seamless response can be developed. A former client of the agency phrased the hope and purpose of the collaborative best when she said, "This kind of service is really the foundation of a family centered community - a place to go during a crisis, a place to heal after assault or abuse, and a place to teach my children that abuse is never okay."
It is internationally recognized that family violence is the number one preventable crime that law enforcement responds to today. No one deserves to be abused. Families no longer need to suffer for years in silence. Taking the enormous step to reach out is the first step towards change, the first step towards safety.
When victims come to the Family Violence Project located at 400 Queen Street, South in Kitchener, Ontario, they are offered choices that fit for them and their individual circumstances. They may want to access all of the services or choose only a few. If they choose, we can also help them access services that are not at the centre. Over many years, we have developed positive working relationships with other service providers and can assist in facilitating these referrals because of such ongoing relationships. This model relies on the partners taking responsibility to make linkages/connections between services, not the client.
The Family Violence Project offers victims an opportunity to access a number of essential services all under one roof.
For additional information, please visit the Family Violence Project of Waterloo Region website.