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Domestic violence victims have help

Kay Vasilakis
kay@postindependent.com
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Advocate Safehouse Project, which began in 1987, is the only program in Garfield County offering comprehensive services for victims of domestic and sexual violence, and their families.

Individual safety plans for the 9th Judicial District are made for victims whose abusers have been arrested, and are usually mandated by the courts if a survivor is wishing to lift or modify a protection order against the defendant. Plans focus on healthy relationships and personal safety.

ASP works with approximately 500 clients per year, and every situation is different. Some clients take only a few minutes because they want quick information about resources.



But at least half the ASP clients take more time because of the complexity of their situations and the need for positive support. It also takes time to educate clients on how different systems work, such as the criminal justice system and the health care system.

Other clients want information about domestic violence or sexual assault for a friend or a family member, and advocates listen to their concerns and educate them about these issues. When talking with a client who is in an abusive relationship, advocates inform them of their options.



Nina Dattola has been working for The Advocate Safehouse Project (ASP) as a domestic violence/sexual assault advocate for 18 months, providing crisis intervention, short-term supportive counseling, advocacy, case management and community referrals to clients.

“The most important aspect of my job is to listen to clients and assist them in identifying what they need and want,” Dattola said. “We try to work with clients where they are at, at that moment.”

Advocates don’t push clients to make decisions. Many clients come from situations where choices and decisions were made for them, rather than by them. It is important for advocates to listen and empower the clients to make their own decisions.

“I believe the best thing to prevent domestic and sexual violence is to respect others and to educate yourself about healthy relationships,” Dattola continued. “Some people have been surrounded only by unhealthy relationships their whole lives, so they really do not know what it is like to be in a respected and healthy relationship. It is always our goal to empower our clients in their relationships.”

It is important for Dattola and other advocates to develop relationships with the clients they work with and establish a much-needed sense of trust. Advocates perform domestic tasks for the Safehouse clients, such as shop for them or take them to court. Every day is a different challenge in the life of a sexual assault advocate.

For more information about the Advocate Safehouse Project, call 945-2632 or e-mail julie@advocatesafehouse.org.


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