Joy D. Baker Center serves women, children escaping domestic violence

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Salvation Army of Knoxville is one of the many organizations in East Tennessee that helps victims of domestic violence.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in 4 men will be a victim of intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetime.

The organization’s Joy D. Baker Center gives support to women with or without children so that they can become “victors.”

“My number one priority is a victim’s safety. Once we can ensure the resident’s safety, then we work to help re-build the person’s self-esteem and confidence,” said an advocate.

WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with the Joy D. Baker Center on its services.

Related: East Tennessee organizations help domestic violence victims become survivors

How does the center help domestic violence victims?

The Salvation Army’s Joy D Baker Center is a domestic violence shelter that serves the needs of women and their children impacted by domestic violence and homeless women with children. The center provides 24/7 staffing and intake in addition to providing the basic provisions of food, shelter and security. The program provides, both directly and through various collaborations, counseling, life skills training and legal, medical, employment and housing assistance. Caseworkers provide additional follow-up with these clients for a year after they leave the Joy D. Baker Center.

What if the person has children or other needs?

The Rainbow Promises program provides for the children of the Joy D. Baker Center. The program provides counseling, tutoring, a volunteer reading program and educational field trips. Working with the Knox County Schools Homeless Liaison, children are enrolled in school within 48 hours of arriving. If a child is already enrolled in school, we work with the liaison to ensure the child remains in the same school. Knox County Schools provide transportation to and from school for the children. Transportation will continue for the remainder of the school year to ensure the children can remain in the same school for the entire year.

If a person has an addiction, counseling is offered to each resident. The counselor will work with each resident and require weekly attendance to NA/AA meetings. The counselor will connect the resident to an agency that offers drug counseling and mental health services. (ex: Helen Ross McNabb, Cherokee Health Systems)

Does the center provide housing or assistance with job placement? 

The Joy D. Baker Center provides temporary housing. If a person is a victim of domestic violence. Staff encourages the victim to apply for housing, when it is safe to do so. When it is safe to pursue, permanent housing is one of the main goals in the Joy D. Baker Center phase program.

The Salvation Army has an on-site employment center that offers assistance in resume building, applying for jobs and referrals for better employment, for those who want other employment.

If you need help? 

Create a personalized safety plan that increases safety and helps prepare in advance for the possibility of further violence. Contact the Domestic Violence 24/7 Hotline or someone you can trust, when it is safe to do so. Do not save any numbers that could help the batterer trace back to your location, when you do leave.

The first step: Safety during a violent incident.

  • Practice how to get out safely. What doors, window, elevators or fire escapes would you use?
  • Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, kitchen, near weapons or in rooms without access to an outside door.

The second step: Safety when preparing to leave.

  • Battered women frequently leave the residence they share with the battering partner.
  • Leaving must be done with a careful plan in order to increase safety
  • Leave money and an extra set of keys with a person you trust so you may leave quickly.
  • Keep copies of important documents with the person you trust

If a woman continues to live at the residence they shared with their abuser but the aggressor moves out/or is removed, there are many things that a woman can do to increase her safety in her own residence.

Safety measures include:

  • Change your phone number, email or any passwords.
  • Change bank account information; contact bank for guidance.
  • Changing the locks on doors and windows as soon as possible.
  • Replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.
  • Install a security system.
  • Install an outside lighting system that activates when a person is close to the house.

A woman experiencing domestic violence can contact The Family Justice Center to connect with an advocate to assist in filing a petition for an order of protection.

Remember only make contact when you feel it is safe to do so. Please call 911 in the event of an emergency.

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