WASHINGTON — The Prince George’s County Family Justice Center was designed to offer victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and elder abuse with a place where they could get the services they need without having to go from one end of the county to the other to get help. One woman’s story shows how it has fulfilled its purpose.
When people in abusive relationships try to escape the violence, they often find a number of roadblocks, and a woman WTOP is identifying only as “Martika” has a story that illustrates the problem.
Martika was in an abusive relationship but a number of factors kept her from leaving. When she was pregnant, doctors discovered an abdominal tumor. She was ordered to go on bed rest and she became more economically dependent than ever on her abuser.
But her doctor told her that her tumor presented an added threat to her health, she knew she had to get help. “The doctor told me, any sudden moves or anything it could be fatal for me or for the baby, or both. I knew then I would have to get out of that relationship,” Martika said.
She would need housing and medical support, as well as help getting a protective order. Martika said she found all three when she discovered the Prince George’s County Family Justice Center, which opened last year. “I made an appointment with someone over the phone, and that was that,” she said.
Because the center houses a range of services in a single location, she was able to learn about housing vouchers, affordable health care, and she even had access to child care right at the center in Upper Marlboro.
She was happy to see there was a place where she could leave her 3-year-old while getting help for herself. The family-friendly facility provided a haven for her older child. “They have educational programs, they have toys, they can color, they can draw,” she said.
Martika had access to the variety of services available, including support groups. She was also able to navigate the court system with legal aid assigned to her. “Currently, I have a final protective order in place. I feel a lot better, I feel relieved,” she said.With her baby now 7 months old, and the support of the services she found, Martika is optimistic about her future. She still has some health concerns, but she is confident about what lies ahead. “Because if I need help, I can always go back. They’re really helpful,” she said.
If you or someone you know needs help with domestic violence, human trafficking, elder abuse, or sexual assault, you can contact the Family Justice Center for help.