Center honors 2 victims of domestic violence

Published 3:10 pm Saturday, October 30, 2021

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Family and friends of Janet Brock and Michelle Renee Smith can no longer hear the voice or see the face of these two women. No more time spent in their presence. They were snatched from loved ones in the prime of their lives by the men who had promised to love and cherish them.

Michelle was just getting her life back on track, moving forward with plans to return to her profession as a paramedic. A bullet ended her life.

Janet was passionate about her profession as a teacher. Her passion showed brightly to students, parents and co-workers who were drawn to the woman with the effervescent smile. Janet lost her life, beaten to death in the bedroom she shared with her husband.

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On Oct. 29, the Claiborne County Family Justice Center honored Janet and Michelle with rooms dedicated in their memories.

As a teacher and mother, Janet loved her students and her own children were the light of her life. “Janet’s Playroom” will allow the legacy of love to continue as children lose themselves in play, finding a few minutes to rest their minds from the horror they’ve suffered.

“Michelle’s Den of Hope” will give victims of domestic violence a dedicated space to tell their stories and receive the help they need.

“A unique thing about the Family Justice Center is, instead of the victims having to go to the Sheriff’s Office or police department, officers come here,” said Bobbie Womack, facility director. “We have a den where the victim can sit and all the services come to them. The den is a comfortable, low-lit setting where they’ll be able to talk in privacy within a family-friendly environment.”

The Center functions as a ‘one-stop shop’ for those caught in the web of domestic abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking or elder abuse. It is a collaborative effort among the various agencies that typically respond to these types of cases.

The Family Justice Center is there to navigate the process from day one until the case is concluded.

“It is our hope that these ladies are always remembered through the work of the Family Justice Center. These rooms will serve as reminders to staff and victims of why we are fighting this battle against domestic violence each day. We are honored to be here today, remembering such wonderful women,” said Womack.

An initial $240,000 JAG (Justice Assistance Grant) got the ball rolling, providing the necessary funding to allow the three-year project to bring the Center to the county.

Volunteers took time out of their busy lives to clean and repair a county-owned building that had stood vacant for some time, saving money that would otherwise have gone into renting, leasing or purchasing a brick and mortar location for the facility.

For more information, call 423-919-8012.