Cobb to open new family center for victims of domestic abuse, violence

Cobb officials and community members gathered in December to dedicate the county’s new family advocacy center, which will serve as a centralized location for domestic violence victims to access needed resources, including counseling, housing and employment assistance.

The center will open in 2023 after years of planning. It is modeled after other family advocacy centers in the U.S. to serve as a central location for staff from several public and private entities that provide resources for those who have experienced violence.

Tanesha McAuley, the family advocacy center’s site coordinator, said the vision for the center is to “expand beyond the building” and serve in the community.

Family advocacy centers are designed to give people “a centralized, safe location to meet with law enforcement officers, receive assistance in obtaining temporary protective orders, as well as receive services,” the county’s press release says.

Cobb resident Janet Paulsen shared her experience with domestic violence at the event. She spent months in the hospital after her husband attacked her despite her temporary protective order, and she and her family faced a difficult legal process, she said at the event.

“I cannot tell you how much this center is going to help [domestic violence] victims and survivors and their families,” Paulsen said. “We’re going to be there to help families, the whole family unit, through a difficult process like I’ve been through.”

In 2020, the Cobb County District Attorney’s office and its partners received a four-year federal grant of up to $400,000 for the creation of the center. Kim McCoy, the director of the DA’s victim witness assistance unit, said she has been pushing for the project since 1997.

DA Flynn Broady said communities that have a family advocacy center see “a corresponding reduction in domestic violence homicides, a reduction in childhood trauma, and with that, better outcomes for families.

April Ross, the executive director of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, said those who experience domestic violence often face fear and confusion when navigating the legal process and trying to access the resources available to them. She said the center will provide comfort and support while easing obstacles.

“It’s long overdue for us to have this kind of system that makes it easier for people because that’s what has always been missing,” Ross said. “All of us care about victims and survivors, and we want folks to get out of bad and dangerous relationships.”