Ozarks Tonight: Domestic Violence in the Ozarks

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In this editions of Ozarks Tonight, we welcome one of our own, Jenifer Abreu.

We wanted to have you on to talk about the series you’re working on, and it’s airing this week on KOLR10 News about resources that folks have to get out of a violent type relationship.

JEN: Of a domestic violence situation, yes. So we decided to take a look into this topic because advocates who I have been talking to tell me this is an increasing issue here in Green County and the Ozarks as well, so we wanted to focus on where to find to help with what are the first steps what do you call what number do you call ,where do you go when you’re ready to make that move to leave that situation. 

Because one thing that advocates I spoke with tell me is that before anything… before you pick up the phone to call or drive somewhere to seek help, you have to be ready. The victims themselves have to be ready to take that step, and it takes a lot many times. I think the number they tell me is that before a victim actually leaves a domestic violence situation and don’t come back it takes them seven times.

So many times they leave and come back because oftentimes they are married to this person or have a child together, and this is someone who they love and who has been controlling them for so long, so it takes a while for that person to get used to the idea of leaving and realizing that they can move on.

So we want to focus on here are the resources once you’re ready this is the number you call these are the resources that are available to you these are the organizations in our community that are here to help you with whatever you need you know.

BRIAN: Your first package this week I think featured the Victim Center and Harmony House, and you’ve got two more packs that are that are coming out. What was the second one about was the third one about?

JEN: So the first one we talked to Harmony House and the Victim Center, and they both offered different services. Harmony House is a shelter for women and to the Victim Center focuses on counseling and they can help referring people out to other resources that they might need. My second piece focuses on legal resources, so once you get those direct services and that you may need either shelter food maybe transportation I mean a job counseling that’s very important. The legal process: maybe getting a divorce if you have children involved, what are the steps you need to take to get a protection order? Maybe for visitation or maybe even custody issues that you might be dealing. 

BRIAN: And do you know if domestic violence, in this case, is simply verbal or physical? Is it emotional? Is it a long list of things? What qualifies as domestic abuse in this case?

Jen: Everything. Everything. And what I have been hearing from victims I have spoken with, the survivors and advocates they tell me often it starts verbally. And just the controlling, telling that person you need me you are nothing without me. No one will love you like I do. No one will do this for you. And it starts that way, kind of controlling it’s a mindset, I think. And from the verbal then it goes to, and that includes emotional as well because you’re loving this person and then they start abusing you physically, and it starts slowly and that’s why it’s even harder for the victim to leave because you know they could remember this is not who he is this is not really the person who I fell in love with, and they think they can change they can eventually go back to what they used to be. So, it escalates slowly and includes everything.

BRIAN: And it predominantly affects women. Is that a stereotype? 

JEN: Some of the numbers the national numbers one in four women and one in seven men at one point in their lives have been in an abusive relationship. So it affects both mostly women one in four and then men one in seven but it does affect as well.

BRIAN: Jen, this is such important work. What would you say was the most interesting or surprising thing. about the series that popped out at you? 

JEN: So the most surprising thing is I was just in Stone County talking to advocates there they have a shelter talked to the prosecutor’s office as well and the Children’s Advocacy Center, and one thing they told me that I found was very interesting is that even though Stone County they have many small organizations and small communities and they’re spread out. But even though they’re small and spread out they still it’s kind of like a web they’re very well connected and they have very good communication, so if someone knocks on somebody’s store and they might not have the resources that person needs, they know who to call and they know who to connect them to. So I thought that was interesting, even though there’s not a huge organization taking care of thousands of people their small organizations in nonprofits in their specific communities, but they’re very very well connected and they can link those people to whatever resources they might need. 

BRIAN: Jen Abreu, very important work, and you can find links about overcoming domestic violence struggles on our website.

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