COLUMBIA CITY — The Whitley County Domestic Violence Task Force has officially teamed up with local law enforcement.
According to Sherry Sausaman, task force organizer, early this month training was completed for the South Whitley and Churubusco police departments and the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, with the Columbia City police coming on board by the end of the month.
“We can’t do it alone,” Sausaman said, and the community collaboration now includes such organizations as the Whitley County Salvation Army, Beds and Britches Etc. (BABE), the Lighthouse and the YMCA.
With law enforcement involved, victims can be reached as the police are on the scene. At the least, police will inform the victim of the availability of the support of the task force in getting them to a safe place, but they may also call the task force in if the victim requests it.
If no help is requested, information for future use can be given.
If help is requested, the victim will be transported to a safe place by the police and a process of educating the victim to recognize the cycle of violence can begin.
“The officers were very receptive and happy to have a resource (for victims assistance),” Sausaman said. “I think we have everyone on board.”
The task force, which consists of four women and one man will be sent out by one main contact person who will make the decision as to which member to call.
After the initial assist, a YWCA advocate will maintain contact.
“As a team, we will have no long-term relationship,” Sausaman said.
Sausaman says the task force hopes to involve the doctors and nurses of the community next “help(ing) them to be comfortable with communicating” with the task force when they detect a need in one of their patients.
Good news and bad news came to the task force in the statistics released from YWCA Regional Outreach Advocate Director, Mary Jo Reffety. Numbers are up in Whitley County in cases of domestic violence reported, but this may mean that victims feel safer coming forward.
Future projects set for this fall are:
— a Safety Fair for junior and senior high school students as well as college freshmen to address safety in relationships, in finance and nutrition as students move out on their own.
— a professional conference for those in the public service sector who may deal with victims of domestic violence.
Sausaman stresses that the entire community must work together toward eradication of violence in homes.
“It is all of the resources working together, integrating services so that victims can be provided with what they need to be successful in independence,” she said.
Anyone who needs help may call the Whitley County Domestic Violence Task Force at 260-609-7086.