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Breaking the Silence: A look at the LCDVTF

According to statistics maintained by the Attorney General’s Office, in 2010 law enforcement agencies in Ohio responded to 70,717 domestic disturbance calls.

Of these calls, 33,497 resulted in domestic violence, protection order, or consent agreement charges being filed, and another 6,786 resulted in the filing of other charges against at least one individual.

Here in Lawrence County during that same time period, our various law enforcement agencies responded to 543 requests for domestic disturbance assistance with charges being filed in all but seven cases.

Although significant progress has been made over the last 30 years including the adoption of domestic violence criminal and civil protection order statutes in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, these statistics attest that domestic violence remains a serious issue in our country, state and county.

It is for this reason that the Lawrence County Domestic Violence Task Force was first established in 1988 and continues to serve our community to this day.

As Court Advocate with the Task Force, I am often told by the individuals I work with that they never knew we had such an organization in Lawrence County until they were referred to us by law enforcement, the prosecutor‘s office, a health care provider, or court personnel.

Although we have tried throughout our tenure to increase community awareness of both domestic violence generally and our services specifically, it seems clear that many people unfortunately remain unaware of who we are and what we do.

This article is just one of our efforts to increase community awareness and knowledge, and we will follow-up with similar informative articles over the next year.

So, what do we do? The Lawrence County Domestic Violence Task Force provides shelter and legal advocacy services for survivors of domestic violence.

In regards to providing shelter, the Task Force maintains a residential facility currently capable for housing eight individuals at any one time. The location of this facility is confidential in order to ensure the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the survivors staying in the shelter.

Day to day operation of the shelter facilities are overseen by the Shelter Advocate, Angela Bacon, who has seven years experience assisting domestic violence survivors by assessing their individual circumstances, needs and desires for the purpose of providing information and assistance by referring survivors to appropriate agencies and organizations that are available to provide aid, including vocational, educational, health, or legal services.

Our goal in providing shelter services is two-fold: in the short-term, to provide an environment free of violence and abuse so that healing can begin. In the long-term, our goal is to aid survivors in becoming self-sufficient.

Legal advocacy services, which I provide as court advocate, consist of assisting survivors of domestic violence in requesting civil protection orders from the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas.

A civil protection order is a court order issued by the court that prohibits the subject of that order, in this case the perpetrator of domestic violence, from engaging in certain behavior.

Typical provisions include: prohibiting the perpetrator from harming, attempting to harm, threatening, following, stalking, harassing, forcing sexual relations upon them, or from committing sexually oriented offenses against them; forbidding the perpetrator from coming within a certain stated distance of the person requesting the order; and prohibiting the perpetrator from having any contact whatsoever with the requesting party, whether that contact occurs in person or via other communication methods, such as telephone, email, text or social networking site.

While a protection order is not a “magic bullet” in regards to stopping the violence, when used appropriately it is a useful tool for a survivor who wants to retake control of his or her life by empowering the survivor to utilize law enforcement before a serious incident of violence occurs.

This, in a nutshell, is what the Lawrence County Domestic Violence Task Force does in our community. However, every survivor’s situation is unique and we strive to provide whatever assistance we can to each and every person we speak with. If you would like further information about domestic violence generally, the Task Force specifically, or, most importantly, if you or someone you know needs assistance, please contact us at (740) 532-7111.

If you need court advocacy services, you may contact our office between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you have an emergency and require immediate assistance such as shelter services, you may call the number 24 hours a day.

 

Kevin D. Samples serves as Court Advocate with the Lawrence County Domestic Violence Task Force, a non-profit organization that provides shelter and legal advocacy services for victims of domestic violence in Lawrence County.