County searches for volunteers to assist domestic abuse victims
The Crisis Resource Center of Steele County is searching for volunteers to help when responding to victims of abuse and violence in the county’s rural areas like Blooming Prairie, Medford and Ellendale.
CRC Executive Director Sara Colby said the volunteers would be responsible for answering the 24-hour crisis line and responding to victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault when the center is closed.
The idea of adding more volunteers in the rural areas of the county came up at last month’s Blooming Prairie City Council meeting. City attorney Jason Iacovino informed council members that the county would like to add multiple volunteers to assist with domestic violence in Blooming Prairie as well as other areas of the county.
“It’s a great way to give back to your community and others in needs,” Colby said. “Anyone can be the victim of domestic violence. Abuse does not discriminate: it crosses all education levels, ages, races, sexes, religions, abilities and economic classes.”
According to CRC, one in four women and one in nine men are victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes, and on average, it takes an individual at least seven times to leave an abusive situation for good.
Colby said volunteers are required to take part in 40 hours of training that is a combination of DVDs and literature to learn how to respond to sexual assault and domestic violence situations.
“They can do it on their time in the comfort of their own home,” she said. “At the end of the training we always take them around and show them the local resources like the law enforcement station and the emergency room; just different places they might be called to doing the evening or early morning hours.”
Volunteers would be responsible for being on-call for a couple of days per month.
Colby said the CRC works in collaboration with the Owatonna and Blooming Prairie Police Departments and the Steele County Sheriff’s Office.
“We can help the victims with things like harassment restraining order, orders for protection, safety planning and the things the police don’t initially do,” she said. “We’re not trying to step on officers’ toes and they’re not trying to step on ours. We are just trying to provide the best services possible to any victims of abuse.”
Blooming Prairie Police Chief Greg Skillestad said CRC provides great resources for residents of Steele County that also help assist area law enforcement agencies.
“It’s a good thing to have available for someone in need,” he said. “We’re not just out here to arrest and prosecute people. We are here to help. That’s what we went into this career wanting to do.”
In addition to the 24-hour crisis line, CRC offers programs and support groups for victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault and a number of other services that even includes help with transportation to hospitals, lawyers, clinic and other social service agencies, including emergency transportation to shelters and safe-housing.
All services are free and completely confidential.
Anyone interested in helping or in need of help call contact CRC at 507-451-1202.