Domestic Violence Outreach Team needs volunteers

By Curtis Chubb, Special to the Herald

“It is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. It can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. It includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.” 

That is how the United States Department of Justice defines ‘domestic violence.’

The term ‘domestic violence’ includes ‘family violence’ and ‘dating violence.’ Some describe it as ‘relationship violence.’ Under any name, domestic violence is unacceptable and unlawful behavior.

There were 124 incidents of domestic violence reported in Milam County during 2014. 

“I consider domestic violence to be one of the most serious problems facing our community,” said Milam County Assistant District Attorney John Graves Redington.

Redington spearheads the DA’s office effort to educate people about the seriousness of the problem – and to enhance the DA’s work to help victims of domestic violence. For example, he coordinated the successful effort to secure a grant to help fund the salaries of the victim coordinator and special crimes prosecutor. 

During the last six months, the DA’s office helped transport six domestic violence victims to emergency shelters. The shelters provide safety and other services for the victims, including counseling and help in finding permanent housing and employment.

And that brings us to the main reason for this article: the DA’s office is calling for volunteers for the ‘Domestic Violence Outreach Team.’

The Outreach Team helps victims in many ways which can be divided into two categories. 

In the first category, volunteers transport domestic violence victims to the shelters. The volunteers usually pick up the victims at law enforcement headquarters and then drive directly to an emergency shelter. These volunteers have to complete a two-hour training session and a background check.

In the second help category, the Outreach Team provides general outreach and support to victims, increases community awareness about domestic violence, and raises funds to support the Outreach Team’s efforts. Volunteers who help in these ways are not required to complete the training session and background check.

If you want to volunteer to help domestic violence victims, call Redington at 254-697-7013.

For those either currently in need of help or believe they are in a relationship in which domestic violence is a possibility, there are resources available. 

For example, there are free counseling programs available in Milam County. Some health insurance plans pay for this type of counseling. 

For help in finding information about services designed to prevent domestic violence or provide support for domestic violence victims, contact the DA’s office at 254-697-7013 and ask for the victim coordinator.

For assistance at any time of the day, there are two ‘domestic violence hotlines’ available 24/7: Phoebe’s Home in Bryan at 1-888-452-9253 and the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Domestic violence can be reported by calling 911 or any local law enforcement agency.