Photo and story by Amber Cetinel / Contributing Writer
Friday saw the much-anticipated ribbon-cutting ceremony of Murfreesboro’s newest location of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center at 1423 Kensington Square Court.
In the #MeToo era, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault have become empowered to free themselves from the agonizing prison of fear and silence their trauma has caused them.
That’s where the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center comes in to help, now with more resources being offered to survivors. With the simple mission to “protect victims, prevent violence, and empower survivors,” according to their website, the center provides citizens of Rutherford County with “the resources and assistance necessary to effectively deal with the personal, social, and legal implications of victimization by domestic violence and sexual assault.”
“Our organization has been in the community for over 30 years, and we’ve always leased or rented space … but now, through a legacy gift, we were able to purchase this building,” said Karen Lampert, the executive director for the center.
The new space will provide additional critical services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, including the ability to conduct sexual assault forensic exams at the center.
“Last year, our services totaled a little over 1,700 individuals. We’re seeing about a five percent increase from year to year for services. Statistically, we know that the prevalence of domestic violence or sexual assault is one in four and one in five (respectively), so we know that we’re only touching the tip of the iceberg,” Lampert said.
Murfreesboro leaders expressed the dire need for the continuous development of sexual assault and domestic violence centers for victims, as well as ways in which residents can help victims.
“Be that person that walks that person in here and helps them change their lives. Because (sexual assault and domestic violence) can lead to death, multiple years of grief and heartache and overall mental health if (victims) know that they’re being abused,” said Kelli Beam, the vice president of membership development for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.
Over 50 people celebrated the expansion of a center dedicated to offering a place of hope and healing for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. And for thousands more Murfreesboro residents, the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center may just one day become their saving grace.
For some, it may very well end up saving their lives.
If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, call the domestic violence hotline at (615) 896-2012 or the sexual assault hotline at (615) 494-9262. The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center is located at 1423 Kensington Square Court in Murfreesboro and offers 24-hour services to victims.
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