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'One-Stop' Center for Domestic Violence Victims Opens on Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi | June 29, 2016 2:41pm
 After years of delays, the city opened the Staten Island Family Justice Center on Wednesday, June 29, 2016.
After years of delays, the city opened the Staten Island Family Justice Center on Wednesday, June 29, 2016.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

ST. GEORGE — After years of delays and two groundbreaking ceremonies, the city finally opened Staten Island's first Family Justice Center, designed to be a "one-stop" for victims of domestic violence and their families.

The 10,000 square-foot center, at 126 Stuyvesant Place, officially opened Wednesday and will offer free services from multiple agencies for victims of partner violence, elder abuse and sex trafficking to get support with legal counseling, housing assistance and job placement.

"Here clients can meet with a prosecutor, they can look for housing, they can apply for financial assistance and they can do it all while their children play under the supervision of a caring center staff," First Lady Chirlane McCray said at the ribbon cutting.

The city will also hire full-time psychotherapists and part-time psychiatrists to help victims with potential mental health issues, McCray said.

Domestic violence cases have been on the rise in the past several years. From 2010 to 2014, Staten Island had a 64% increase, the largest in the city, District Attorney Michael McMahon said.

"This trend is beyond troubling," McMahon said. 

"It is not only a break in our legal framework, it is also a break in the most basic trust that connects our humanity. A breach of trust between a husband and wife, domestic partner, parent and child, aunt, grandparent."

Staten Island's Family Justice Center was first pitched by then-District Attorney Dan Donovan in 2007 to help tackle the rising numbers of domestic violence cases in the borough.

"King had a dream, Donovan had a dream," Donovan said, referring to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Donovan's dream was the family justice center and today you guys helped make it a reality."

In 2013, the city held its first groundbreaking ceremony for the center and originally planned to open it the next year, but it was pushed back because of numerous delays for the opening of the new Staten Island Courthouse nearby.

After Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, the project was fast tracked and officials held a second groundbreaking ceremony in October, Councilwoman Debi Rose said.