October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month

Robert Blackford/Editor

Last week was a busy week for the Mercer County Family Crisis Center. They were in court to get five orders of protection in a two-day span. Members of the center were in court 86 times in order to get orders of protection in 2007.

That is nearly two per week.

In Fiscal year 2007 the center had 311 clients. Since the center is only open five days a week or 260 days a year that is over one client a day that is coming to the center seeking assistance.

With the downturn in the economy, that number may rise.

Becky Maynard, the adult legal advocate for the center, said, “Whenever there is additional stress, we see people more.”

This included earlier this spring when so many people had problems with flooding.

Marla Reynolds, director of the center, said a psychologist and two counselors are at the center three days a week to counsel individuals.

Reynolds said,  “Our service here is no charge. We do ask our clients to make arrangements to get counseling.”

Over the past six years the number of clients has actually decreased. Recent figures show 296 clients in 2008, 311 in 2007; 299 in 2006; 36 in 2005; 438 in 2004 and 394 in 2003.

“It’s kind of coming down,” said Reynolds. “We’ve been here for 25 years in 2009. I’d like to think we’ve made a difference.”

Despite the center’s longevity there was a 28 percent drop in four of the major grants that help keep the center alive last year.

“There is $26,000 less in the budget,” said Reynolds, “that’s roughly one staff member. We didn’t cut staff but other programs did.”

The center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The telephone is answered 24 hours a day.

The center does take donations to help it assist clients. “Money is always the best,” said Reynolds. They also accept diapers, canned goods, paper towels, laundry soap, Bounce, items the Link card won’t cover. Old cell phones can be given out to clients. All cell phones can be used for 911 calls whether the phone is in service or not. Really old cell phones can be recycled.

“We always need volunteers,” said Reynolds. Volunteers go through 40 hours of training plus a background test and a drug test if they are going to be working with children.

Order of protection

In order to obtain an order of protection you must be a family or household member. The Illinois Domestic Violence Act definition of family or household member dictates: related by blood or marriage; share or formerly shared a common dwelling; have or allegedly have a child in common; have or had a dating relationship or high risk adult with disabilities who is abused by a family member or caregiver.

VOCA funded Illinois domestic violence programs served 44,526 adults (96 percent women) and 9,596 chilodren in the state Fiscal Year 2007. Of the adult clients 50 percent were employed; two percent were on TANF; 42 percent were married; 68 percent had two or less children.

  • *Around the world at least one in three women has been beaten coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
  • *Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
  • *Sixty-four percent of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked since age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, intimate partner, boyfriend or date.
  • *Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women - more than car accidents and any other crimes combined.
  • *Every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten.