Education is an important service that Bright Horizons provides.   Through education and outreach our agency can continue to communicate to others about what domestic violence is and how our agency can help serve victims.  Recently a presentation was given to a Human Services class at Wayne State College.  Along with one of our volunteers, Angie Steffen, I presented to the class about what domestic violence and sexual assault is, and the services that Bright Horizons provides.  The class was full of questions and many seemed intrigued by the amount of victims that we serve on a daily basis.  A particular question that stands out in my mind is, “what do you do if the woman is in a domestic violence relationship, but chooses not to leave?”  Angie and I explained to this student that on average it takes a victim 7 times before she decides to leave for good.  But even if that victim decides that she wants to return to the relationship, we are still here for her. Part of being an advocate is meeting that victim where she’s at, even if that means she chooses to stay with her abuser.

This conversation then raised more questions about shelter, and how I and our other shelter advocate help the victims on a daily basis.  I discussed with the students about how important it is to understand that each victim is different and each situation is different, therefore, what we work on with the victim and their children is different.  Some women come to shelter having excellent independent living skills, while others come to shelter and need help with forming those skills, along with others.  Working with the children is also important at shelter.  Just how each adult is different, each child is different too.  Some adjust really well to living in a new home, and some struggle with change.  Whether it be helping the child with appropriate interactive skills, or just being a positive role model in their life, the advocates at the shelter work hard to meet the needs of all of the victims.

Volunteer work and internship opportunities were also discussed at the presentation.  I explained to the students the multitude of things that a volunteer can do for our agency, and how a not-for-profit willfully accepts these generous individuals.  Our internship program is a great opportunity for students to experience hands on what our agency does on a daily basis, as well as after hours through our crisis line.  If anybody is interested in either volunteering or applying for our internship program, please contact either our Volunteer Coordinator or Program Director in Norfolk or O’Neill.

Our staff is always available to give presentations on not only domestic violence and sexual assault, but teen dating violence, healthy relationships, stalking, and many other topics.  If your class, group, organization or place of work is interested in having our staff provide you with a presentation such as this, please call our Norfolk or O’Neill office at 402-379-2026 or 402-336-1774.

Written by Lacy Kimes; Norfolk Shelter Manager