Elizabeth I. Doney Havre Daily News email@example.com
Sixty-one honorary colored flags are billowing in the wind outside the Human Resource Development Council Building located on the south end of Fifth Avenue. The purple flags represent domestic violence’s victims of homicide in the state of Montana and commemorate October’s Purple Ribbon Month. The blue flags represent child victims of homicide, the gray indicate that stalking was involved and the teal flags signify sexual violence, which are all common in domestic violence. “The reason we put out the flags is to get the community to stop and reflect that domestic violence is a community problem, not a private problem. We hope the increased awareness will help people to ask themselves what they can do to end violence,” said Roxanne Ross, Director of the HRDC IV’s Domestic Violence Program. “We believe the display speaks volumes as to how domestic violence affects our community and we would like people to come see the flags.” In the past year, HRDC IV has recorded 310 victims of domestic violence, 40 victims of stalking and 18 victims of sexual violence, of which, 290 victims were provided justice advocacy and 65 children were provided child advocacy. The domestic violence staff assisted with 138 orders of protection and the crisis hot line received a total of 358 domestic violence related calls. The domestic violence program's main goal is to provide access to services for victims and abusers to make a sound decision to end violence in their lives. These services include; criminal justice advocacy, emergency shelter, child advocacy, a 24-hour crisis hotline (265-2222), emergency transportation, legal advocacy, supervised child visitation and exchange, emergency financial support, individual peer counseling, and separate men and women’s violence intervention educational groups. The violence intervention groups are generally court mandated, but they are open to anyone who wants to learn more about domestic violence prevention.
It is has been discovered that people who are willing to go to these meeting without being ordered by the court have found the means to change their lives. Facilitated by Ron Belcourt, the men’s group meets every Monday from 6 to 7:30 pm. The women’s group meets every Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. and is facilitated by Carly Nottingham. “The number one thing the community can do to help end domestic violence is to become educated, knowledgeable and assertive in doing their part. Anyone who is unsure how to do that can contact our program,” Ross said. Change can begin to take place if abusers become accountable to themselves by forfeiting blame and admitting that violence is not the answer. Victims must reinforce abuser accountability by saying, “You can’t do this to me.” Family and friends cannot enable the abuser by victim blaming or excusing the abuse. The system will then do their part by making sure the abuser, if convicted, is jailed, fined, ordered to attend violence intervention education group and ensure that the abuser's gun rights are removed to prevent possible homicide. Preventing domestic violence needs to begin with an individual's desire to create a safer environment for themselves and their children. Children cannot make the decision to live violence free unless they see their parents making that same choice. For that to become a reality, both parents need to recognize the vicious cycle that their family is in and discover that there is hope. The staff at the Domestic Violence works with all of those involved in violence; the abuser, the victim and the children. Their mission is to give families the opportunity to learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationship patterns and to become the vehicle needed to relearn how to live in vitality rather than pain. For more information about HRDC IV’s Domestic Violence Program, there are several ongoing trainings, educational presentations, brochures, monthly newsletters and a link on the Web site www.hrdc4.havre .mt.us. People can also call any staff member at 265-6743 or (800) 640-6743 to create a safety plan or learn about more about the resources that are available.