The Guilford County Family Justice Center was created largely to reduce violence against women in Guilford County and this week the center is receiving a grant that should help a great deal in that effort. On Thursday, April 18, the Guilford County commissioners will vote to accept a $187,000 grant from the Governor’s Crime Commission Violence Against Women Act.

That act is state legislation that’s meant to improve and hasten  the criminal justice system’s responses to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

The Act also aims to increase the availability of services for victims.

Guilford County has been something of a focal point in the state over the past decade when it comes to domestic violence.  A decade ago, Guilford County led North Carolina in the highest number of domestic violence related homicides.

Then, in 2015 the county opened the Family Justice Center in downtown Greensboro to address domestic violence and related acts. Three years later the county opened a second location in High Point.

According to information provided by Guilford County staff to the county commissioners, “Within the first six years of operation, the Centers served nearly 54,000 victims. Between 2015 and 2021, the demand for service increased 130 percent. Currently, seventeen partner organizations totaling 100 professionals work collaboratively to provide onsite streamlined and comprehensive services to victims of domestic and sexual violence, child abuse, stalking, human trafficking, and elder abuse. This grant seeks to continue and expand the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office role within the structure of services provided by the Family Justice Center partnership. Those served by the GCSO Family Services Unit include domestic violence victims and sexual assault victims.”

Like many places across the country, there was a spike in domestic violence in Guilford County during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In fact, the county saw a 250 percent increase in domestic violence-related homicides, according to county officials.

Much of the grant money will be used to assign three new law enforcement officers to the  Family Services Unit in order to help prevent victims from “falling through the cracks” and also to help hold abusers accountable.