Domestic Violence Community Response Task Force Held Meeting on July 8

This blog post was written by Elena Tanner, Public Information Office Intern, summer 2014.

Providing critical services to Cape Girardeau residents takes a broad network of local organizations and government agencies. Not only does this include safety and medical services (provided by local law enforcement personnel), but  also domestic violence and veterans services. Below is an account of the monthly Domestic Violence Community Task Force meeting, which included members of local law enforcement, Safe House for Women and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

On Tuesday, July 8, the Domestic Violence Community Response Task Force held its quarterly meeting. The meeting, sponsored by Safe House for Women, included members of local law enforcement, treatment providers, prosecutors, and educators from the area. Gary Helle, a Veteran Justice Outreach Specialist for the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, presented on the Veterans Justice Outreach initiative.

According to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, “The purpose of the Veteran’s Justice Outreach initiative is to avoid unnecessary criminalization of mental illness and extended incarceration among Veterans by ensuring that eligible Veterans in contact with the criminal justice system have access to Veterans Health Administration (VHA) mental health and substance abuse services.”

As the Veteran Justice Outreach Specialist for the area, Gary Helle partners with courts, law enforcement personnel, jails, and probation and parole officers to get Veterans the health, mental health, and substance abuse services they deserve.

As part of his presentation, Gary Helle addressed the correlation between Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and domestic violence. This correlation is important for local law enforcement personnel, treatment providers, prosecutors, and educators to be aware of as they assist both Veterans and victims of domestic violence.

In the Southeast Missouri area, Safe House for Women aims to “provide a safe refuge to those affected by domestic abuse and violence,” as well as providing support services and community education.

According to Safe House for Women Executive Director Allison Leonard, “Just because you don’t need shelter or don’t have violence does not mean that Safe House for Women cannot assist you.” Safe House works with counselors and educators to provide their clients with a range of services, including support groups, legal advocacy, and emergency shelter.

But, because domestic violence is a growing problem, Safe House is looking to improve client services in order to accommodate more people. Anything you would use in your home, such as cleaning products, detergent, diapers, hygiene products, and over-the-counter medications, can be donated to the Safe House Thrift Shop. Clothing items, toys, books, and furniture can also be donated. Safe House clients are given first access to get items that they may need. Other items are on sale for the public and all proceeds go to funding Safe House operations.

Domestic violence is a growing problem, but together we can stop it.

Visit www.semosafehouse.org to learn more about the services offered at Safe House for Women and what you can do to help. For more information about getting involved in community services, visit blog.cityofcapegirardeau.org/5-ways-to-be-a-civic-volunteer.

If you are in crisis and need assistance, call the 24-Hour Crisis Hotline at 1-800-341-1830 or 573-651-1614.