Southern Indiana

The Center for Women and Families (CWF) welcomed the public to its new Southern Indiana location for the first time this week.

The organization offers services and a safe space to survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse at four locations across the Louisville area. Though the new campus in Jeffersonville has been operating since May, Friday was the first time the center opened the space to the public.

“Today is about making sure that anybody who needs us knows we’re here, making sure that the community remembers that we’re here, and having people come into our space,” said CWF president and CEO Elizabeth Wessels-Martin.

CWF previously offered services in New Albany, but sold the building in May 2020. In the year that followed, the center focused on mobile and remote outreach in Indiana.

Wessels-Martin said the new location in Jeffersonville, near Clark Memorial Hospital, has already helped the center reach more survivors.

“Our numbers have gone up,” she said. “Wherever they are on the spectrum of domestic violence and sexual assault, they’re reaching out to us. And that’s our goal: to reach people and hopefully reach them earlier, when they start to realize, ‘Wow, this relationship is not healthy, I’m not being treated right.’”

The new campus isn’t replacing mobile outreach, though. Instead, community advocate Monica Little said the space will complement the existing services.

Little said during the pandemic, clients would often contact the center on the phone or over Zoom. When that wasn’t possible, advocates would take the organization’s van to a safe location.

“Whether they needed to meet at their job on their lunch break because their partner would track their mileage and they couldn’t go anywhere else, or whether we needed to meet at a coffee shop, it was amazing that we were able to still do our job,” she said. “But I liked getting back into the office to get more of a routine down and mostly be a solid, set place for someone to come if they needed to get to safety. They can come and walk in the doors.”

The center’s services include helping victims obtain protective orders, work and housing. In addition to the Jeffersonville campus, it has locations in Louisville, Shelbyville and Shepherdsville, serving nine counties in all.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.