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Women, children and men can fall victim to domestic violence
Nobody likes to talk about it or admit that even in a relatively safe place like North Dakota, large and small towns alike, women, children and men can fall victim to domestic violence.
However, the numbers don’t lie and they’ve stayed fairly consistent over the past few years, according to Deanna Cleveland, assistant director for the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Minot, which assists victims in both domestic violence and sexual assault situations.
“The reality is, we see all income levels who request our services,” she said. “We see all ages and races. There really is no discrimination with violence.”
In 2009, the Center made 1,519 client contacts, with 98 percent of those contacts from women and almost 2 percent from men.
The Center worked to provide 107 protective orders involving victims and law enforcement officials, and sheltered 113 women and 255 children during the year.
And because the Center offers its services in Ward, Renville, Pierce and McHenry counties, the probability that women, children and even men you know may have contacted the Center is high. In fact, staff members at the Center want small town and rural residents to understand the services are available to everyone in those counties.
Cleveland said the Domestic Violence Crisis Center personnel were well aware of the challenges facing victims seeking help from the areas surrounding Minot. “We do care about them and we have concerns for them and their safety,” she said. “Our services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’re willing to meet them wherever it is convenient for them and their children, and do whatever we need to do as a program to meet their safety needs and basic needs.”
of help available
The North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services lists the various forms domestic violence can take against an adult, including pushing or shoving, hitting or slapping, pulling hair, punching or kicking, strangling or restraining by force, tripping, arm-twisting, or using a weapon. Emotional abuse can include intimidation, isolation, using name calling or mind games against the victim, making threats, economic abuse, or using the children to manipulate a situation.
The Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Minot stands ready to intervene in a variety of ways, depending on how the victim wants to proceed. For those women who want information about their options, the Center offers assistance. “If clients want to remain in their relationships, they can get support,” Cleveland said. “They come together to meet and share their stories and options available. Often, they begin the road to recovery and healing when they connect with other victims.”
Support groups for adults, as well as children, are scheduled by the Center. The children’s groups, open to youth ages 4 through 18, have been especially popular with topics including self esteem issues, safety and appropriate ways to express anger, sadness and other emotions. Cleveland noted the kids’ support groups usually meet on Thursday afternoons, with some 250 or more children served by those groups during the year.
For victims thinking about leaving a violent or abusive situation, with or without children, Cleveland said staff members can assist with preparations. “We can evaluate how dangerous the situation is and look at a safety plan,” she said. “We can talk about strategies for the victim to keep herself safe, and discuss a safe place to go, if something should occur.”
Those victims who need immediate relief from a violent relationship can call the Center for help and possible sheltering. Cleveland emphasized the need for such victims to be prepared with their personal identification, medications, financial paperwork, keys and other significant personal items belonging to them and their children. “We can be looking at a safe time to leave, whether it’s at their home with the help of law enforcement or at a friend’s home or public place. Then we look at getting them to a safe house and oriented to the program.”
While the victims live in a safe house, the Center also refers them to a variety of other services. “We look at social services, job services, whatever they need to regain a sense of independence,” said Cleveland.
Contacts remain private
Confidentiality for each situation remains a top priority with the Center, including their outreach staff who see clients in the outlying counties. “If we need to come to an area and meet with a client, we try to meet somewhere private,” Cleveland said. “Usually our outreach coordinator goes to the courthouse [in one of the other counties] and uses a private room. We want to protect our clients.”
Cleveland acknowledged problems with maintaining privacy in the rural areas or small communities, and said that other arrangements can be made regarding transportation to the Center in Minot or another secure location. “And we cannot share any information, unless the victim gives us permission,” she added.
Where to call for help
Even when the circumstances for a victim of domestic violence seem insurmountable, especially in one of Ward County’s smaller communities, Cleveland encouraged area residents to contact the Crisis Center. “We know you can feel isolated in a rural area, but please know there are options available,” she said. “One thing to do is look at this time as a way to begin your life again, with a new healthy start.”
The ND Council on Abused Women’s Services reports that in one 24-hour period, 283 victims of domestic violence and their children across the state receive assistance from local domestic violence service providers, like the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Minot. “We wish we could work ourselves out of a job,” Cleveland said, “but we’re here and have victims as our primary focus. If abuse and violence are going to take place, we’re glad we can provide these services.”
For more information about services provided by the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Minot, call the office at 701-852-2258 or toll free at 1-800-398-1098. Cleveland suggested that victims seeking immediate help should use one of those numbers or the crisis line.
The office also maintains a website at www.minot.com/dvcc and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 24-hour crisis line can be reached at 857-2200, and the rape crisis line at 857-2500.
Further information about services to assist domestic violence victims and their families can also be found at the North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services website at www.ndcaws.org.