OPINION

Community leaders discuss domestic abuse and what to do about it at Big View meeting in Pratt

Jeanette Siemens
Pratt Tribune
Jeanette Siemens is a facilitator and supporter of Circles of Hope, Pratt.

On Monday, July 26, Circles of Hope Pratt, hosted the third Big View Conversation of this year. The topic this month was domestic abuse. The purpose of Big View conversations is to discuss topics that are of interest to all segments of the community and domestic abuse is certainly that.

A panel consisting of Maria Lopez from the Family Crisis Center, Tracey Beverlin, Pratt County Attorney, Nate Humble, Chief of Police and Dr. Mark Green, psychologist at Pratt Regional Medical Center all talked about the issue from their vantage points.

We learned that after calling for help in such an abusive situation, the victim often recants their accusation making it very difficult to prosecute. Often, when things calm down a bit, the abused begins to worry about where they will go and what they will do, particularly if children are involved. They also begin to question why something happened and did they do something wrong and tend back away from their claims. A victim's testimony is crucial if there is to be prosecution. Those abused are dealing with so many feelings they can't understand, making even more difficult to move forward.

Chief Humble said cases are hardly ever the same and the police need to respond with caution. Domestic abuse is one of the most common calls that come in with 75% of calls related to abuse. There are times when both parties will go to jail.

The main offices of the Family Crisis Center, Inc. are located in Great Bend where a woman's shelter is also located. There has been some discussion about a shelter in Pratt, but that's not yet on the horizon. Ms. Lopez said all their services are voluntary and totally confidential. They also have a child advocacy program for children that have experienced abuse.

Psychologist, Dr. Mark Green has a background in working with violence and noted that more prevention services such as officers, and more women officers, all being trained on trauma, would be helpful. Children in abusive families also need much help and support. Many abusers grew up in abusive situations and are inclined to the same life style. He stated we need "to seek to understand" and for people to watch out for other people. Mental Health, which contributes to abuse, is one of the main focuses of the recent Health Assessment conducted by PRMC.

Obviously we didn't solve the issue nor did we intend to do so in one evening, but the evaluations of the conversation indicated those in attendance did learn some new and helpful information. It also told us there is much more to be done and that's it's a community problem. There is a need to have more conversations on the topic helping us move forward to making progress in addressing the issue. We have "only just begun." Our next Big View conversation is Monday, October 25.