Liberal Area Rape Crisis is a great resource for women PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 November 2008 13:00
Most often victims of domestic violence and sexual assault feel very afraid, alone and even ashamed. The staff at Liberal Area Rape Crisis and Domestic Violence Services want the public to be aware that they are there in that delicate time of need. “The most important thing we want for people to know is that we are here,” said PRA Coordinator and Client Services Advocate Debbie Butler. “It saddens me when I hear from a victim, ‘I didn’t know there was a place I could call, I didn’t know there was a place I could go.’” Some of the specific services offered by LARCDVS are crisis intervention counseling, personal advocacy, help with immigration issues and emergency shelter – just to name a few. “October was Domestic Awareness Month, and there were 23 victims in the state of Kansas that died last year as a result of domestic violence,” Butler said. “That includes men, women and children. That is what the 23 crosses (in front of the library) were symbolic of.” Every Tuesday night at 7 p.m., a women’s support group is available. Butler said for location information, anyone interested can call the center at 624-8818. “That is a great resource for some women, a great outlet – just a great place that they can go and feel safe,” she said. “They can be around other women who are in the same situation they are.” A children’s support group is also available to anyone interested in sending their child. Once again, Butler urges anyone that feels their child may benefit from such a group call the center for a time and location. A very important service provided by the center is the 24 hour crisis line. By calling either 624-8818 or 1-888-417-7273, a victim can just talk to a representative of the center, obtain information or needed services. “We have a 24 hour crisis line that is answered by staff on call 24 hours a day and 7 days a week,” Butler said. “Anybody who has a problem, and they don’t know where to call, they can call us and we can get them the resources that they need. “Probably 10 percent of our day is spent just giving out information and referrals to different men, women and children,” she added. There is a donation room at the shelter that is available for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. According to Butler, clothing and food is on hand for any victim in need. Butler coordinates the Police Response Advocate program. She stated that it is necessary for victims to have someone specially trained available to talk to them after the police have secured the scene. “We have volunteers who have spent hours in training so they know what they are doing,” she said. “They respond to every 911 domestic violence call that comes through the 911 communications. “They are specially trained to arrive at crime scenes with police officers,” she explained. “What happens when a 911 call comes in and it is identified as a domestic violence call, the first thing they do is dispatch officers to the scene. The second thing they do is call the PRA phone that is carried 24 hours a day by an advocate and that advocate responds to the scene with the police officer. “After the police officer is done with his investigation and makes sure the crime scene is safe, the police accompany the PRA into the home,” she added. “Then he or she has an opportunity to meet with the victim and go over maybe some safety planning and talk about domestic violence a little bit.” Butler also added that if a victim does not with to speak with a PRA at that time, that wish is always respected. LARCDVS is funded by state and federal grants and is also a United Way agency. Private donations also keep the center running so they are able to provide services at no cost to their clients. Butler is also very thankful the Guardian Angel program is in place. “Every service that we offer is free, we don’t charge anyone for anything,” Butler said. “We have a guardian angel program and people can be guardian angels. “What that is, is someone will commit to donating $100 – it is just a commitment,” she added. “When we need the money for something that our grants won’t cover, we don’t have the private funds or we can’t use our general fund money, we go to our little drawer of angels.” Butler stressed the importance of the right to safety, regardless of immigration status. “Sometimes victims are hesitant to call the police and report a crime because of their immigration status,” she said. “We just don’t care what their immigration status is. A person’s immigration status does not have a bearing on their right to be safe in their own home.” Sadly, according to Butler, statistics are not going down. In 2007, 862 new clients utilized the center in 2007. Forty six clients were placed in emergency shelter, 36 of them were sexual assault victims. “That is way too many in a town the size of Liberal,” Butler concluded. “Last year, our PRAs responded to 147 calls. We are over that number now.” Butler urges anyone who feels they are in danger due to domestic violence or sexual assault call the center anytime, day or night, at 624-8818 or 1-888-417-7273.
 
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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press.

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