San Diego Family Justice Center will offer services to sex-trafficking victims

The San Diego Family Justice Center, long a bulwark for domestic violence victims, will expand its offerings to include services for victims of sex trafficking, the San Diego City Attorney’s Office announced this week.

“In offering these new services, we are responding to a need,” City Attorney Mara Elliott said in a statement issued Friday.

“We discovered that many of our domestic violence clients have also been trafficked for sex. That’s why the SDFJC is bringing on new, specialized community partners to ensure that any victim who walks through our doors gets the specific kind of support they need.”

The offerings include counseling, forensic exams, legal advice and job readiness support.

“There’s no judgment at the Family Justice Center,” Yvette Lopez-Cooper, executive director of center said in a statement. “We offer services free of charge, no questions asked, to anyone in need.

“We provide a safe place for victims of sexual exploitation and their families to reclaim their lives, seek justice, and begin healing.”

According to the City Attorney’s Office, the average age of a sex-trafficking victim in San Diego County is 16 years old.

Sex trafficking is big business, with a local underground economy of $800 million countywide, second only to drug-trafficking, the office said.

In a video produced to announce the expanded services, Elliott said the center takes a “holistic approach” to address the entirety of what victims face.

“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for them to get back on their feet,” Elliott said in the video.

The San Diego Family Justice Center — the first of its kind in the nation — was established in 2002 as a one-stop place for victims of domestic violence. The expansion of services to include victims of human trafficking was formally announced at an event Thursday.

Services at the center, open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., are provided free of charge. It is located at 1122 Broadway in downtown San Diego.

The center can be reached toll free at (866) 933-4673.

To learn more about the San Diego Family Justice Center, visit sandiego.gov/fjc.

teri.figueroa@sduniontribune.com

(760) 529-4945

Twitter: @TeriFigueroaUT

Copyright © 2019, © 2019, The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. All rights reserved.
66°