Whenever he gets the opportunity, it seems, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes makes a point of talking up his office’s Family Justice Center.
Dedicated to the memory of Hynes mother, who was a battered wife, the center −− located on the 15th floor at 350 Jay Street −− is now five years old, and, said Hynes, not only does it provide help to victims of domestic violence, its focus on healing the wounds has also brought back together 25 percent of the families that have come through its doors.
That, he stressed during a joint meeting of the 62nd and 68th Precinct Community Councils, is an extraordinary success rate, in an arena of law enforcement which is fraught with stumbling blocks.
Overall, the Family Justice Center aims to bring together the myriad of services needed by victims in a single place, Hynes told his listeners, gathered at the Knights of Columbus, 13th Avenue and 86th Street. “We have 37 co−located agencies on the same floor that provide every possible support for victims,” Hynes said, making for “the most comprehensive program of anyplace in the country for containing domestic violence.”
A highlight of the center is Margaret’s Place, named for the mother of former Yankee skipper Joe Torre, where children can play while their mothers or fathers utilize the center’s services. Like so much of the Family Justice Center, Margaret’s Place serves more than one need. While children safely play, Hynes said, there are also child therapists on site, “to begin the healing.”
A key to breaking the cycle of domestic violence is helping the youngest victims to recover from the trauma, Hynes stressed, because children who have watched a parent being physically abused often become abusers themselves, he explained.
Thus, “a terrible sin that ought to be eradicated also produces a tremendous public safety problem,” he stressed. “Many who go to upstate prisons are children of domestic violence.”
A key to the success that has been enjoyed by the Family Justice Center is that its services are tailored to individual needs. “It’s not one size fits all,” stressed Hynes, who said that programs are varied to accommodate the needs and beliefs of various ethnic and religious groups. Language is also not a barrier. “With our language line, we can access 170 languages and dialects,” Hynes told his listeners.
“Not one person has to suffer one more day in Brooklyn without getting the comprehensive help that is available,” Hynes emphasized.
For further information on the center, call 718−250−5111, and select option 6.