Mexico Sees Model In San Diego Domestic Violence Center
May 31, 2012

Photo by Jill Replogle
Mexican attorneys and domestic violence specialists visit the "Dress for Success" program at San Diego's Family Justice Center. Here, women can pick up suits for court appointments or jobs.

SAN DIEGO -- On Wednesday afternoon, former San Diego City Attorney Casey Gwinn greeted a group of 27 visitors from Mexico. They had come to learn how the city’s Family Justice Center, which Gwinn co-founded in 2002, works.

The center offers counseling, legal and medical assistance, and help finding shelter and employment — all under the same roof. It has served as a model for cities around the country and abroad.

Mexico is committed to opening 27 such centers during the next few years. The future leaders of these centers are spending the week in San Diego to learn how the city transformed the way it handles domestic violence cases.

In the past — and currently in Mexico — a victim might have to trek across the city to visit the police department, a doctor’s office and social service providers. In San Diego, all of these entities are now located at the Family Justice Center.

Having scattered services requires women to retell their painful stories over and over again, said Pamela Basañez, from Mexico’s National Center of Crime Prevention and Citizen Participation.

“And that makes it very difficult because they’re not precisely in the psychological or economic position to be able to do that,” she said.

In a 2006 study, 40 percent of women in Mexico reported having been a victim of physical, emotional, economic or sexual abuse by their partner.

The city of Juarez opened up a justice center in March. Currently, there is no such center planned for Tijuana.