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Help is readily available to all
By Caroline Downs
“Domestic violence victims often know what’s safest for them,” Nancy Murphy told audience members during the April meeting of the Kenmare Safe Communities organization. “Sometimes we have to be quiet and listen.”
Murphy was speaking as director of the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Minot as she described the services and opportunities offered by the DVCC to residents of Kenmare and other Ward County cities, as well as people living in Pierce, Renville and Bottineau counties.
“Our agency provides services to domestic violence victims and sexual assault victims,” she said, “and those services are free and confidential.”
Murphy described the safe house in Minot operated by the DVCC, which has been utilized by domestic violence victims from Kenmare when necessary. “We have a security system there and a 24-hour staff,” she said. “There are rules to follow, but victims and their children can stay about 30 days. That’s because we have so many people who come in and out, who need the safe home.”
In fact, about two weeks before Murphy spoke in Kenmare, the safe home was filled with 20 individuals. “That was putting them on couches and a couple in sleeping bags on the floor,” she said.
“We’re seeing more victims who are being assaulted, who are from out-of-state. Usually in those cases, all they want is to get back to where their family is.”
She said normally, residents of the safe home have their own bedrooms and share kitchen and living room facilities. The agency also has plans to build a new two-story safe home to meet the demand for their services.
That project is a work-in-progress as part of a long-range plan that includes a newly-completed office building and four-plex that serves as transitional housing for victims. Another four-plex is scheduled to be completed and furnished soon.
In the meantime, the DVCC staff members continue to assist victims with housing, legal services, social services and other matters. “We do a lot of referrals to different agencies that can help, depending on what the needs are,” Murphy said. “Whether or not they follow up on that is something different.”
The Center also hosts support groups for sexual assault victims, domestic violence victims and children of domestic violence victims, along with providing 24-hour crisis counseling by telephone, assisting with civil protection orders and doing public education in schools about bullying, teen dating and healthy relationship topics.
Murphy is realistic about the impact of the DVCC’s work in the communities. “We see the same clients over and over,” she said. “Nationwide, that’s common. Statistics say a victim will leave [a relationship] and go back seven times. It’s serious and complicated and difficult to make that decision to finally leave the relationship.”
calls in Kenmare
Kenmare Chief of Police Gary Kraft said the number of domestic violence calls in Kenmare has risen slightly during the past two years, with those situations tending to be more violent than he recalled from the past. “We have two felony cases pending right now,” he said.
Most of the time, the calls involve new residents in Kenmare.
Patrol officer Seth Engelstad said in his experience, most domestic violence victims in Kenmare are not aware of ways they can get help in the community. “We can provide some of the services, but it’s mostly referrals,” he said. “At least they can feel like they have a starting point then.”
Kraft said all domestic violence calls handled by the Kenmare Police Department are reported to the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Minot. “Every time someone reports an incident to us, we have to go check it out,” he said. “We don’t wait for the victim to contact us.”
“Usually, an advocate [from the Center] comes and talks to them then,” added Engelstad.
At this time, the Kenmare PD cannot usually transport victims to the safe house in Minot, although Kraft said sometimes the department can coordinate transportation with the Ward County Sheriff’s Office.
More often, a friend or family member of the victim is enlisted to make the drive to Minot.
Kraft also explained any injuries to the victim or other persons at the scene of the call would involve other emergency responders.
“If the victim or anyone there needs medical attention or if there’s a mental health issue, we have to involve Kenmare Ambulance,” he said. “We’re not qualified to treat the victim.”
The Kenmare Police Department can be contacted by calling 385-4411 or 9-1-1.
Further information about the Domestic Violence Crisis Center can be found at the First District Health Unit office in Kenmare.
The DVCC can be reached by phone at 701-857-2200 for the 24-Hour Crisis Line, 701-857-2500 for the Rape Crisis Line, or 800-398-1098 for the business office.
Prescription drug abuse
topic for May 9th meeting
The next meeting of the Kenmare Safe Communities organization will be held Thursday, May 9th, beginning at 11 am at the Kenmare One Stop Burger Shop.
Representatives from the Rural Crime and Justice Center at Minot State University will give a presentation about prescription drug abuse.
All community and area residents are welcome to attend the meeting without becoming specific members of the Safe Communities organization.
For further information about the Kenmare Safe Communities coalition, contact Melissa Burud at 701-385-4328 or Holly Brekhus at 701-852-1376.