Put yourself in a victim’s shoes

Deputy shares insights at domestic violence ceremony

DV ceremony 2

Logan County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chris Prickett speaks to attendees at the Logan County Domestic Violence Awareness Ceremony Friday about his new role working with domestic violence victims in collaboration with New Directions of Consolidated Care and the Soteria House. (EXAMINER PHOTOS | MANDY LOEHR)

Logan County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chris Prickett said he has learned a great deal in the last eight months regarding the difficult circumstances that victims of domestic violence find themselves in that are very troublesome to escape. 

“We have people asking, ‘Why do they keep going back to their abusers? Aren’t they partially to blame in that case?’ Well it’s typically a lot more complicated than one may think to leave an abuser,” he told attendees Friday during his speech at the Logan County Domestic Violence Awareness Ceremony at Union Station, 613 Hamilton St.

Since February, Deputy Prickett has been working with domestic violence victims alongside New Directions of Consolidated Care Inc. and that organization’s Soteria House shelter through a $26,000 Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services grant. 

This grant provides the wages and fringe benefits for a part-time deputy to follow up with individuals at the shelter, which serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Through his interactions with a number of clients at the shelter this year, the featured speaker said he has observed how victim’s relationships often begin as positive ones that eventually spiral into abuse. 

“No one gets into a relationship thinking, ‘I want to be beaten;’ it’s something that happens gradually over time. 

“Just imagine you’re in a loving relationship and you start to have kids, cars, a house and you’re financially embedded. Then this partner starts pushing you or slaps you, but he says, ‘Oh, it won’t happen again.’

“Then the abuse becomes more frequent and more severe, but you’re feeling trapped because this is the father of your children and the breadwinner for your family. You feel like you couldn’t make ends meet on your own. It’s hard to leave because he also threatens to harm you or the children.”

For individuals who find themselves in this kind of situation, the deputy wants them to know that the Soteria House, which opened in Logan County last year at an undisclosed location, provides even more than just a roof over their heads. Employees of the shelter and New Directions, along with volunteers, work tirelessly to help the victims get back onto their feet. 

“At the Soteria House, it’s not just a place to stay; it’s a place where they can connect you to many services,” Deputy Prickett said. “They can help you find transportation or a job, and eventually a new place to call your own.

“You realize there’s support out there for you even if you don’t have family nearby to rely on.”

The ceremony featured a “Guest at the Table” visual presentation, which incorporated Soteria House client stories displayed on each of the tables at the event. A slide show concluding the program also included quotes from clients regarding their renewed hope and thankfulness for the shelter.

“This program helped really make me a stronger person. Every one of the staff members were great with whatever I needed to help. This was a great place of support and information I needed to go on with my life and to get over my hardship,” one client said. 

“I’m thankful all of my needs were met, including things I had forgotten about and things I didn’t even think about needing,” another person wrote. “Every area was taken care of beyond expectation, plus extra needs and activities were excellent.”

Shelter manager Hope Duran said from Sept. 30, 2016, to Oct. 1, 2017, the shelter served a total of 58 people, including 25 adults and 33 children. The oldest child served was 17 when entering the shelter and turned 18 upon leaving, while the youngest child was a newborn. 

She noted that when a domestic violence victim leaves an abuser, that is the most crucial time for their protection. 

“They are 70 percent more likely to die at the time they try to leave,” she said. “Often our most serious injuries occur during that time.”

Also during the ceremony, New Directions Director Debbie Brownlee presented a Community Hero Award to Dave Bezusko and Dawn Beelman on behalf of the United Way of Logan County Board of Trustees. 

She expressed her appreciation for the United Way of Logan County’s history of supporting this organization, including an $11,467 grant received this year for the shelter, including funds for counseling and advocacy for battered persons. 

Securing the United Way grant also made it possible for New Directions to apply for a Lowe’s grant that could potentially improve security at the house as well, she related. 

The director said the community support for the shelter has been “overwhelming” since it opened in early 2016. This year, the total donations and in-kind work have totaled $57,000, she noted. 

“We weren’t prepared for the generosity of the community when we began this,” she said, noting that the donated items stored at the New Directions office at 1855 W. State Route 47 have finally been de-cluttered and organized. “We’ve become experts at moving furniture and all kinds of other items that benefit our clients. 

“We’ve also been overwhelmed at the needs of our families harmed by domestic violence. There is so much that they need when completely starting over.”

She said many of the donations have come from local churches, clothing stores and even auto supply stores, which have provided assistance with free automobile parts to make repairs to client’s vehicles. 

All of the local support is important for keeping the shelter’s $395,000 Victims of Crime Act Grant through the Ohio Attorney General's Office’s Expanding Services and Empowering Victims Initiative, Brownlee related. 

For individuals facing a crisis situation, local law enforcement can help direct victims to Soteria House representatives to begin the admission process. There also is a local crisis line available at (877) 394-1046.

The Logan County New Directions office can be reached at 593-5777.