Grant assists youngest victims of domestic violence
The Family Support Council has obtained a two-year grant to offer free counseling to the most vulnerable and youngest victims of domestic violence.
Executive Director Adrienne Monroe said the agency was successful in obtaining the Children Exposed to Violence grant worth nearly $80,000 for two years.
“In addition to the free services we already provide for adult victims, we are providing screening and treatment services free to the community’s children ages 0-17,” she said.
Monroe said the Family Support Council would offer play therapy for children ages 3-8.
“We were very happy to receive a phone call from the (Nevada) attorney general’s office that we had received the grant,” she said.
The program includes certified domestic violence and substance abuse counselors, therapists and interns. The free counseling program began Dec. 1. Applicants may sign up any time.
Domestic violence counselor Bridgette DeBoer is project manager. She earned her masters degree in marriage and family therapy from the University of Nevada, Reno, in December 2011 , and has worked for the agency since June.
She has been a crisis line volunteer since 2008.
Monroe said the trauma experienced by children witnessing abuse is similar to children receiving the abuse, adding that the impact of exposure to violence on children is often overlooked or minimized.
“Infants and young children in the early developmental stages can suffer from decreased brain development which can be a lifetime consequence of lower cognitive functioning, heightened anxiety, and physiological effects such as high blood pressure and poor impulse control,” she said.
She said children display emotional and behavioral disturbances, withdrawal, self-blame, aggression, increased illness, fears, anger, and repetition of abuse, injuries and even death.
Acknowledging it may be difficult for an abuse victim to make that first call for help, Monroe and DeBoer stressed the confidentiality of the program, and staff training to assist clients.
“We are very hyper-sensitive to that (confidentiality). Just call in,” DeBoer said. “Whoever answers the phone will be able to assist. There is no waiting list. It takes less than a week to set up a schedule.”
The Family Support Council also assists Hispanic clients and offers a 24-hour bilingual crisis hotline.
Monroe has been executive director since August 2010.
She’s put her skills to work making budget cuts such as eliminating costly smart phones for less expensive disposable models, recycling paper, and enlisting volunteers to maintain the building inside and out.
“Sometimes charity needs charity,” she said. “Putting money toward client services goes both ways. It shows how hard we’re trying, and that we are very, very fortunate now to get more money out of every dollar. Our grants are not at risk.”
Despite the seriousness of the work, Monroe’s philosophy is “it’s up to us to be the changes we want to see in this world.”
Monroe said it’s often a situation of “there but for the grace of God go I.”
“Once you spend several hours with a person, you start to think had I been born in their life I would be about where they are. Life is a finite gift. They get to rewrite that story and they are absolutely worth it,” Monroe said.
“We are an agency of celebrating the positive,” DeBoer said. “One success gets us through until the next one.”
For information about freee counseling for children, contact the Family Support Council, 782-8692 or project manager Bridgette DeBoer, bdeboer @family-support.org. Information about all the agency’s programs is available at the Family Support Council Web site, http://www.family-support.org.