Resources available for those affected by domestic violence

A person holds a “hope” bracelet, worn to inspire awareness of domestic violence.

Photo courtesy of Fergus County Attorney’s Office

 

 

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. It is a time to remember that domestic violence is an epidemic effecting individuals in every community, including our own, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or nationality.

Did you know that one-in-three American women and one-in-four American men have been victims of domestic violence? Twenty people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. On a typical day, more than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.

“The one thing people don’t think about in domestic violence is the children,” said Renee Sanofsky, the Victim/Witness Program coordinator for the Fergus County Attorney’s Office. “What they witness, what it does to their ability to feel safe; in a lot of cases, it teaches children that violence is okay, that it’s a way of life, and that it’s the only way of life.”

Fergus County has resources for individuals who are hurt by intimate partners, including children. The first and fastest resource is calling 911. Law enforcement officers with the Fergus County Sheriff’s Office, the Lewistown Police Department, and other agencies are always available to respond in an emergency.

But what happens after the immediate crisis has passed? Our community has other resources, too. An organization called SAVES has advocates available to help obtain emergency housing, protection orders, and other services. SAVES can offer help even when a crime has not been reported to law enforcement and can be reached by calling 535-2303.

When domestic violence is reported to law enforcement, the Fergus County Attorney’s Office becomes involved. While prosecutors handle to legal aspect of a case, Sanofsky, the Victim/Witness Program Coordinator, helps victims with every step of the process.

“Victims don’t know where to go, who to reach out to, or even that there’s help,” Sanofsky said. “They’re scared.”

Sanofsky is available to assist victims of any crime that is prosecuted by the Fergus County Attorney’s Office, and she often works with individuals who have been hurt by their intimate partners. She can be reached by calling 535-8127.

“The criminal justice system can be intimidating, and having Renee there to guide victims through the process is invaluable,” said Fergus County Attorney Kent Sipe. “She is a vital part of securing justice for people who have been hurt.”

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