Help needed for victims of violence
EAGLE COUNTY – A woman, scared and hurting from being beaten by her husband, picks up the phone and calls a stranger to talk about her very personal experience.She calls The Resource Center and hears the voice of a woman who tells her she has called the right place, and that everything is going to be OK.”If a woman actually gets to the point of calling us, that is pretty big so because so many don’t,” five-year volunteer Wendy said. The center, which provides aid to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, receives up to five phone calls a day, Sally, a volunteer for 15 years, said.”What people don’t understand is this is a pretty poor town, and because of that we see a huge impact on the amount of violence,” Sally said. “People believe this is a Hollywood kind of town with crimes stemming from how much cocaine is because it’s so rich here. But it’s only the people who come here that have money and not the people who live here.”
“Domestic violence and rape are shockingly prevalent here,” Sarah, a volunteer at The Resource Center, added. “It’s on the rise everywhere, but most people don’t think of it when they think about this valley.”Sarah has been a volunteer at The Resource Center for four years, and she said any woman who is a victim of domestic violence or rape can call and receive counseling, safe housing, legal guidance, education or just an ear to talk to.”It’s very rewarding to know you are helping ease a woman’s mind,” Sarah said. “The people who volunteer all got in it for different reasons, but we all get back the same thing.”
With the summer coming, the center is preparing for a rise in calls for help, Sarah said. After the holidays and over the summer seem to bring the highest call volume, she said. The advocates program at The Resource Center is currently recruiting more volunteers who can lend a friendly ear and give some advice to the women – and sometimes men – who call for help. “Anyone who is interested in helping someone else through a difficult experience should think about becoming a volunteer,” Sarah said. “Active listening skills are important, and if you are the friend who all your other friends turn to when they need to bend an ear, you will do well.”The ideal volunteer has to be compassionate, nonjudgmental, understanding of other people’s situations and honestly willing to help, Wendy said. “It can be stressful and scary when these frightened women call,” Wendy said. “These people have such intense problems, and you really have to care or they will hang up and walk away.”The peace of mind that comes with knowing you have helped someone through their crisis is one part of volunteering at the center that keeps Wendy going, she said.
“We have people who call in to report an incident for “a friend,” and whether that’s the case or not, we are there to listen and offer what help we can,” Sarah said. “Sometimes we can help by giving them housing resources or legal references, and other times just being able to talk to somebody is all the help they need at that moment.”Most women who call the hotline to talk but do not take advantage of the help the center has available are afraid to shake-up their lives by reporting violence against them, Sarah said.Some women are afraid to get their partner in trouble because they worry they can’t make it on their own financially. Some are scared they will be deported or lose their children, five-year volunteer Wendy said.”I’ve been on the phone for hours before trying to help a woman out of a dangerous situation but they were just so afraid to do anything,” Wendy said. “They feel trapped and have kids but no money.”The center can help change a woman’s life through job training and placement, a safe place to live, free legal assistance from local lawyers, and even food and clothing supplies, Wendy said.Though men can also be victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, Sally said the center is not equipped to help men, and is “really designed to help women and children only.” Men will get help over the phone only, she said. Staff writer Alison Miller can be reached at 748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.