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Family Support Council expands victims’ program

by Lois Pruneau

The Family Support Council of Douglas County has been offering help to victims of domestic violence since 1982. A sexual assault program was added a few years ago, and most recently, the program offers assistance for victims of elderly abuse.

The domestic violence/sexual assault family caseworkers are Rebecca Smokey, Barbara Ancina, Lois Pruneau and Alice Walker.

There is a 24-hour crisis line manned by the caseworkers during business hours and volunteers after work hours, on weekends and holidays, with the paid staff on backup to the volunteers as needed. Caseworkers provide crisis intervention and advocacy services. They assist with temporary protection orders and shelter for victims when necessary.

The council believes it is the right of every person to be free from physical and mental abuse in his or her life, and goals include:

n Provide community outreach for education on the topic of family abuse as a prevention service.

n Maintain a network of referrals and services to ensure an effective program for the victim and family members in an abusive situation.

n Victim’s safety, autonomy and confidentiality remain top priority.

A sexual assault response team (SART) is coordinated by the council and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Caseworkers respond promptly when notified by the sheriff’s office of a victim who has been raped or sexually assaulted. Emotional support for the victim is very important. Sexual assault not only violates her personal integrity, but also her sense of safety and control over her life. An advocate accompanies the victim to the hospital emergency room and law enforcement agencies assist with victims of crime application and go to court, if needed.

Most recently, the council has been doing an outreach to the elderly on domestic violence. A presentation was given to the seniors at the senior center in Douglas County. The domestic violence staff will be working cooperatively with Nancy Hunter, who is with the State of Nevada Eldercare.

Family Support Council is in the process of raising funds to provide a shelter for victims of domestic violence. There is a need and demand and this will be the first shelter in Douglas county. Victims are now placed in shelter either in Carson City or South Lake Tahoe. With the new shelter, victims will be able to remain in the area, as it has been a problem in the past because of employment, no transportation and children who are enrolled in local schools.

Outside the Family Support Council building there is a thermometer which shows the amount raised to date for the shelter – $133,100. The goal is $300,000.

A domestic violence/sexual assault lending library is open to the public. Women’s support groups are offered four times a week, two at Family Support Council, one at Topaz Ranch Estates and one at Stateline.

For information on these groups or any other questions, call 782-8692.