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Op-Ed: Working to serve the victims of abuse

April 17, 2014|By Christine Ramos

I made a phone call 12 years ago that changed my life. After 16 years in an abusive relationship and a call to 911, I found myself in search of assistance beyond what police and courts could offer. Making dozens of phone calls from referral after referral, I finally reached Family Service Agency (FSA) and was able to speak with another domestic-violence survivor, a woman who understood what my children and I had endured and how to best help us.

She and I are certainly not alone in bearing the title “survivor.” The statistics are staggering: One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. That statistic does not include those who are emotionally, verbally or sexually abused. Additionally, 85% of domestic violence victims are women, not to mention all of the millions upon millions of children who are also affected as silent witness to the abuse taking place in their homes.

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Because of the life-changing assistance and services provided to me at FSA, I was determined to pay it forward. I sought further education and training, worked diligently and now serve as the director of Family Violence at FSA.

I now know, through my personal experience and my work, that a coordinated community response is critical in protecting and assisting families. When members of the community coordinate their efforts to protect battered women and hold batterers accountable, the victim’s efforts are more successful. Coordination helps to ensure that the system works faster and better for victims, that victims are protected and receive the services they need. It ensures that batterers are arrested, prosecuted and held accountable in an effort to cease their abusive behavior and allow their family to heal.

FSA provides victims and their children with individual counseling and group support services free of charge. A batterer’s first step toward critical change at FSA is to participate in our Batterers Intervention Program. The program supports perpetrators as they learn to identify and take full responsibility for the effects of their abuse on their partners, children, family, and/or community, while offering healthy alternatives to relating to their intimate partners and children. With success in the program, batterers will often opt for therapeutic services upon completion.

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