Nationwide, one in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Unfortunately, in smaller communities like ours, access to domestic violence prevention services, such as counseling and legal assistance, can often be difficult to access.
Our friends at The Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois, (VPC) a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Belleville, have long been working hard to address these issues for families here in Monroe County, and in our neighboring counties of St. Clair and Randolph.
Locally, the VPC has had a legal advocate based at the Monroe County Courthouse since 1997. Victims of domestic abuse can visit that office to seek orders of protection or gain advice on how to navigate the legal system.
But when the courthouse closes, domestic violence victims who need counseling or other services have had few local options to seek help.
Now, thanks to a new partnership with Human Support Services a full-time VPC Domestic Violence Crisis Counselor will be able to provide services in Monroe County.
“The Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois is excited to have the opportunity to bring domestic violence counseling services to Monroe County,” said Darlene Jones, VPC executive director.
“It is a challenge for clients to travel to Belleville to receive these services from our certified domestic violence professional counselors,” Darlene continued. “Although we have a Legal Advocate in Monroe County to assist with obtaining an order of protection, understanding legal rights of an individual, developing a safety plan, etc., the effects of domestic violence goes on long after legal intervention has been provided.”
In these cases, not only is the victim impacted by domestic violence but so are the children in the home who have witnessed this behavior.
Providing domestic violence counseling can help in the healing process, empowering the individual to move forward and breaking the cycle.
In Darlene’s words, “The union with HSS is perfect and we are thrilled to work closely with their staff.”
The counseling position is funded through the Victims of Crime Act grant recently awarded to VPC.
For us here at HSS, it’s a win-win situation.
It’s invaluable to keep Monroe County residents close to home to receive these important domestic violence prevention services, and allow working families to receive these services here in a safe space.
HSS isn’t certified to provide domestic violence counseling. That’s a service that VPC provides, and we’re happy to have that service as part of our full team approach here.
Even better, with VPC in house, we can refer back and forth if there are individuals that we see in our mental and behavioral health programs, and likewise.
The VPC provides a 24 hour crisis helpline/hotline to answer calls from the Illinois Domestic Violence Help Line and others for immediate crisis intervention and counseling services. That number is 618-235-0892 or 800-924-0096.
For the time being, anyone who needs to schedule an appointment with the VPC Domestic Violence Crisis Counselor in Monroe County should call the hotline.
To contact the VPC legal advocate in Monroe County, call 618-939-8114.