Oregon’s first Family Justice Center celebrates 10th anniversary

Community leaders filled the auditorium at the Clackamas County Development Services Building on Feb. 22 to celebrate A Safe Place Family Justice Center’s 10th anniversary.

Clackamas County opened its Family Justice Center in December 2013 as a place of hope for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. County officials say it has served as a place survivors can go to access a wide range of services, including safety planning, counseling, support groups, restraining orders and more.

A Safe Place provides survivors navigating abuse with one place where they can connect with a range of providers like the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office and Department of Human Services. For the past decade, survivors of domestic violence have been able to talk with a counselor, file a police report, find a battered-women’s shelter, join a support group and get a restraining order from a judge — all in one building, rather than have to visit various agencies.

Those in attendance at the anniversary celebration heard from Clackamas Women’s Services Executive Director Melissa Erlbaum, Clackamas County District Attorney John Wentworth and Clackamas County Sheriff Angela Brandenburg.

Erlbaum told attendees, “When we initially envisioned Oregon’s first Family Justice Center over a decade ago, we dreamed big and started small. As soon as we opened the doors on December 10th, 2013, we knew that we had already outgrown the space.”

Since opening, A Safe Place has provided support and advocacy to over 7,000 survivors seeking services at the center for the first time and had over 32,000 visits for services. Additionally, over 4,000 survivors have received individual assistance in applying for protective orders through A Safe Place’s Video Court Program. In 2023, A Safe Place assisted with 56% percent of protective orders filed in Clackamas County.

During the celebration, Wentworth committed to adding another valuable service to A Safe Place in March. He told attendees, “Beginning this year my office will offer assistance at A Safe Place to families in child support matters. Families fleeing abuse shouldn’t have to navigate the complexities of child support on their own, and we will be here to help.”

Wentworth called A Safe Place “A beacon of hope, a symbol of resilience, and a testament to what we can achieve when we come together as a community.”

Brandenburg, who served as director of A Safe Place for five years, said, “The last 10 years has demonstrated that the Family Justice Center model works for our community and that when we work together with one common goal to improve the lives of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, stalking and elder abuse — through empowerment, coordinated service and collaboration — our community is a safer place.”

Brandenburg told attendees, “One thing has been clear from the very beginning: We need more space to serve the needs of our community. A space that can accommodate all of our partners and the services they provide. A space for onsite medical assessments. A space where childcare is readily available so that kids can play while families get the services they need.”

Brandenburg said, “It’s not just about creating physical space; it’s about creating space for hope, for healing, and for the future we envision — a future where no one lives in fear of family violence or abuse.”

Attendees were invited to return to the auditorium in the Clackamas County Development Services Building on May 22 for an event to help shape the future of the Family Justice Center. Anyone interested in attending the May event can email ASafePlace@clackamas.us for further details.


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