Think of three women you know — your sister, daughter, co-worker or neighbor. It is hard to believe, but one of these women will be the victim of domestic violence in her lifetime.
Now, think of six women you know. One of these women will report being a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime.
Whether they break bones, hearts or lives, domestic and sexual violence are important community health issues. This is why The Center for Women and Families works every day of the year to eliminate domestic and sexual violence through service, education and advocacy.
The Center is so much more than just a shelter. It provides options and resources for victims of domestic and sexual violence — and those friends and family members who are trying to help them. Services are free of charge. The Center helps victims find the strength within to become survivors.
The Center''s 24-hour crisis line is staffed with certified domestic violence counselors trained to offer crisis counseling, support, referrals, emergency shelter and other information about domestic violence.
Many times, counselors begin creating a safety plan with victims during this first phone conversation. Every safety plan is different, but most plans include information about how to escape in an emergency, get help if leaving is not a choice and keep in touch with support systems. Studies show victims of domestic violence are at the most risk when they leave their abusers. This is why victims of domestic violence must move at their own pace when making a decision to leave. Only they know the true danger of the situation.
When our community thinks about The Center for Women and Families, most people think about the organization''s emergency residential services. The Center does provide emergency shelter in three residential locations, transitional housing options and long-term affordable housing, but it is so much more than a shelter. For example, did you know The Center''s advocates support and accompany victims to the emergency room and the court room? Additionally, because we know financial control is such a big part of nonphysical violence, economic counselors provide job placement support and financial skills building as participants learn to create wealth and independence.
The Center is there from crisis intervention through the healing and empowerment process for victims of sexual assault too. The Center''s hospital advocates meet victims of sexual violence in the emergency to begin immediate connection to our services. It makes a difference to hear someone say aloud, “It''s not your fault” and “You are not alone.”
Hospital advocates might just stop in and leave our contact information, or they might stay for hours talking with doctors and family members. The Center empowers victims to let us know what we can do for them in their time of need and looks forward to them calling for follow-up counseling, therapy and support groups. Additionally, the Louisville Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Clinic recently opened at The Center''s downtown campus. The Louisville SANE Clinic will provide compassionate, timely care. Specially-trained nurses will be on-call and patients will be immediately connected to The Center''s services, including shelter, therapy, counseling, parents/partner groups, survivor groups, art therapy and economic success programming.
If someone you know is being abused, learn about The Center''s available resources and keep our crisis line nearby. Always let them know you care and are concerned for their safety and, most importantly, don''t judge or criticize. If you are being physically or have been sexually abused, let The Center for Women and Families help you find your strength within. Call our crisis line at 877-803-7577 toll free any time of the day or night to speak with a counselor.
The Center for Women and Families engages individuals and community in the elimination of domestic violence, sexual violence and economic hardship through service, education and advocacy. Originally a part of the YWCA, The Center for Women and Families has been helping victims of domestic and sexual violence in our community since 1912. Today, it is a nonprofit organization serving 14 Kentuckiana counties. Last year The Center''s services, advocacy and education reached more than 30,000 people.
Denise Vazquez Troutman is President/CEO of The Center for Women and Families.