Fort Worth

One-stop shop for abuse victims opens in Fort Worth

Domestic abuse victims in Tarrant County now have one place to go for a multitude of services, from interviews with police to counseling to job training.

One Safe Place held a grand opening Wednesday for its new location in the 1100 block of Hemphill Street, a 67,000-square-foot sanctuary for those affected by abuse.

“This is our first permanent facility,” said Ken Shetter, executive director of the Safe City Commission in Fort Worth. “We’ve literally been operating out of trailers. This is the largest center anywhere and we needed that because we serve all of Tarrant County.”

Officials, including Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead and Casey Gwinn, president of the National Family Justice Center Alliance, were among those who attended Wednesday’s ribbon cutting, which coincides with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

A 2010 film about domestic violence, 1 in 3, produced by Fort Worth native Lagueria Davis, will be shown Thursday at One Safe Place.

One Safe Place does intake and manages service integration for all the domestic violence cases in Tarrant County, Shetter said. The additional 52,000 square feet of space will enable One Safe Place to offer service to four times the number of victims currently being served.

Besides medical, counseling and emergency financial assistance, One Safe Place will also provide a clothing store and job training.

“The goal is to provide all the services in one place that a victim of domestic violence might need,” Shetter said. “Most victims face mobility challenges and it’s difficult to have someone have to travel to all of the 30 agencies and organizations that provide services to domestic violence victims. The extended travel also puts the victim at greater risk for attack.”

The extra space also makes it easier for different organizations, such as Safe Haven of Tarrant County and The Women’s Center, to work together. In addition to shelter and law enforcement services, partner agencies with One Safe Place offer counseling and child care services for the children of domestic violence victims, Shetter said.

“Most of our clients (85 percent) have minor children and 75 percent of that number have children who have seen abuse,” Shetter said.

The center will provide services to any victims of intimate partner violence, elder abuse, anyone who has been in violent relationships in the past and people who are concerned that their current relationship may turn violent, Shetter said.

“This model understands why victims either stay or return to dangerous relationships and does what needs to be done to truly free victims from incidents of repeat violence or escalations in violence,” Shetter said. “Some people feel there is little that can be done to stem this tide. We think we have the answer to curbing these situations here in Fort Worth.”

The movie, 1 in 3, is being shown to raise money for One Safe Place and to increase awareness of domestic violence. The film title refers to the statistic that one in three women will suffer domestic abuse at some point in their lives, said Davis, who now lives in Los Angeles.

Davis said she tried to make a film about her work at an Oklahoma domestic violence shelter, where a family she had helped became victims after leaving the shelter. They are the subjects of 1 in 3.

“They were an inspiration to us,” Davis said. “They had been in our shelter for 60 days and we helped them find an apartment. I remember hugging them good-bye. It was a very difficult thing opening up the newspaper and seeing them dead. I had to walk away from the story because I was too emotionally involved.”