Home Features Let's talk about it: The victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault,...

Let’s talk about it: The victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, the resources available and how to help out

Trigger Warning: Sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, harassment and rape.

DVSAC Office: 208-529-4352

24-Hour Crisis Line Hotline: 208-356-0065

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

According to the Women and Children Alliance’s (WCA) website, about one in four women and one in 10 men have experienced sexual assault, physical abuse or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Sexual assault, rape, stalking and domestic violence occur frequently on college campuses across the nation. According to an article by Healing Abuse Working for Change (HAWC), women aged 16-24 have the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), women aged 18-24 and in college are three times more likely to experience sexual violence than women in other age groups.

Shown is the sign outside the crisis center. The 24 hour crisis line is 208-235-2412. Victims of abuse and sexual assault are urged to call in emergency situations. The office can be reached at 208-529-4352. This line is used for questions.
Shown is the sign outside the crisis center. The 24 hour crisis line is 208-235-2412. Victims of abuse and sexual assault are urged to call in emergency situations. The office can be reached at 208-529-4352. This line is used for questions. Photo credit: Savannah Bewley

Joanne Hess is the assistant director for the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center (DVSAC), a non-profit organization that serves victims of domestic violence, victims of sexual assault, rape, and children who have been victimized sexually/physically.

According to Hess, DVSAC aims to spread advocacy services to their clients, focusing on both immediate help and longer-term support. It extends a helping hand to all affected by these crimes — children, adolescents, and adults.

This is the play room for the children. This is where they meet with their therapists and sometimes they come just to play. There's toys and a light table with games for the kids.
This is the play room for the children. This is where they meet with their therapists and sometimes they come just to play. There's toys and a light table with games for the kids. Photo credit: Savannah Bewley

DVSAC is located in Idaho Falls at 1050 Memorial Dr.

The services DVSAC provides to its clients are:

— Crisis intervention

— Advocacy

— Education regarding the dynamics of abuse, response, treatment, and access to services

— Information regarding the rights of crime victims

— Ongoing support services

DVSAC also provides victims of domestic and sexual assault access to their rape kits and private forensic interviews.

A rape kit is for victims after a sexual assault. Instead of going to a hospital (with an average wait time of 36 hours after a traumatic experience), victims are able to get tested immediately with the center’s in-house nurse.

“A rape kit is just where they’re collecting the DNA, they do a lot of swabs, they’re looking for injuries, they’re photographing, they’re getting statements, but most of all, they can do medical treatment,” Hess said.

Forensic interviews, on the other hand, are for children after a traumatic event. Law enforcement is included in the process. After a traumatic event, it is important for the child to be in a safe and secure location where they feel comfortable discussing the event.

“A forensic interview is someone who has been trained to talk to the kids, not leading them into what happened to him but getting them to share with them,” Hess said. “It’s videotaped so that the kids never have to go up on the stand at a courthouse.”

How can the community help out?

According to Hess, the center is funded by grants from the state and through fundraisers. These fundraisers include the Policeman’s Ball and Walk a Mile.

The Policeman’s Ball aims to support law enforcement in Idaho Falls while raising funds for the center.

“We pair with law enforcement,” Hess said. “It’s a dinner dance. It’s a fun evening. We have lots of prizes, and raffle prizes they can try for and it’s a community event to come out and support law enforcement.”

This is the room the victims go to choose out items they may be in need of. The room includes clothing, pots and pans, healthcare products, and baby food. This is where donations to the shelter go. The shelter is in need of professional clothing for the victims. Male and female clothing is needed, any size. Frozen meals for the children is another donation the shelter could use.
This is the room the victims go to choose out items they may be in need of. The room includes clothing, pots and pans, healthcare products, and baby food. This is where donations to the shelter go. Photo credit: Savannah Bewley

The event would take place on Oct. 1. Volunteers and event supporters are needed.

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is a pledge-based fundraiser where men literally walk in women’s high-heel shoes and take a public stance against domestic violence and sexual assault,” Hess said. “It’s not easy walking in the shoes, but it’s fun, and it creates awareness and discussion in our community about domestic and sexual violence. Funds raised will assist DVSAC in providing direct services to victims within our community.”

Hess shares that the event would be taking place in the third week of September with more updates available on the DVSAC website.

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