Christine Lee, NBC 5 Irving and Grand Prairie Reporter
The Family Advocacy Center in Irving is a unique facility that works to help victims of violent crime and victims of domestic violence.
The Irving Family Advocacy Center is working to increase awareness of domestic violence.
The center provides services and assistance to victims of crime, including victims of domestic violence.
"It's like a one-stop shopping," said Sgt. Jim Spears, who oversees police operations at the center. "We have Child Protective Services here. We have victim services in the building. We have the counselors here in the building."
The center houses the police department's Domestic Violence Unit, which investigates all family violence crimes and files cases for prosecution.
The center also provides services to crime victims. The Victim Services Unit provides counseling and information to victims of violent crime.
Nearly 400 families visit the Family Advocacy Center every month, Spears said.
The facility is one of only two locations in Dallas County that performs forensic interviews with child abuse victims, Spears said.
"They can talk to the children and find out what happened in the least evasive way so they're not traumatized more out of it," he said.
Clinical supervisor Mildred Betancourt said it has been a challenge to educate some families about overcoming cultural taboos about reporting domestic violence.
"It's very ingrained in their culture -- 'what happens at home stays at home.' You don't talk about those things," she said.
Betancourt also said many victims worry that their legal status would be questioned and said bilingual counselors such as herself try to dispel any fears.
"They feel comfortable speaking with a Hispanic in their own native language, making them feel comfortable to the fact that we're here to help them, not to penalize them in any way," Betancourt said.
The city of Irving averages about 2,400 cases of domestic violence per year. The police department conducted a five-year study that showed that both domestic violence and child abuse cases have increased every year.
The study also showed that up to 45 percent of all crime cases reported throughout the city involved domestic violence.