Down a small road lined by thick, tall green trees, the East Texas Crisis Center provides a safe haven for women in need of a helping hand.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and TJC wants students to know they can seek help on campus.
“We take any incident reports very seriously. We will protect our students make sure our students feel safe and secure,” said Randy Melton, director of Campus Safety.
Whenever students are in danger, they are referred to the East Texas Crisis Center. The East Texas Crisis Center is for women who are in danger or homeless due to domestic violence. The center has counselors who can help women begin a new path in life after being battered by their partners or someone close to them.
There are several different programs offered to reach out to victims. That’s part of the abuse, they isolate her. That’s how they keep her under control. So that’s one of the things we do as ad- vocates, look for resources in the community and get her appli- cations for food stamps Medicaid and Medicare,” said Martha Carney, director of Client Services.
Also they help battered women through Lone Star Legal Aides to get a divorce, applications for crime victim’s compen- sation, a driver’s license, a GED, and relocate if they want to get back to their family in another state. There is also funding for housing programs. They have waivers for deposits to help get their first month’s rent, and deposits for setting up electricity and gas. The Crisis Center provides protective orders if the victim is in danger or if her abuser is still bothering her.
“I feel as though if a man or woman feels the need to put their hands on their spouse, that’s when the relationship needs to just cut off,” said TJC student Jeffrey Marshal, a social worker major.
Often a victim only seeks help after the worst has happened. If a sexual assault victim is put in the hospital, the East
Texas Crisis Center is called. They have a 24-hour, seven days a week schedule.
“We have some people who are severely injured physically. Then we have some people who have never been touched but they’re emotionally or psychologically abused and those carry the same weight,” said Carney.
This TJC victim is a full-time mother and student. She said their daughter has seen them fight and knows what’s going on.
“Usually the start of everything was over something stupid like facebook, or stealing money from me or just not doing what I asked him to do. You know, that’s part of the man’s duty is to help you out, you know,” said an anonymous victim of domestic violence.
The fighting has stopped for the most part and they have worked out their differences and hardly ever fight anymore and it’s a lot better for them and the child.
The advice she offers is “Do what you can to get out. Do better for you and your child.”
There are also programs at the Crisis Center for children that provide the children with schooling and anti-victimization skills training.
For some, things don’t end quite as well. Loved ones of victims spoke about how scared they are for their friends.
“It affected me in the fact that I worried for her a lot, because he probably could kill her,” said Cherri Osburne of her friend.
For cases such as these, ETCC offers support groups such as HEART, which stands for Help End Abusive Relationship Tendencies. This program is a confidential support group for battered and formerly battered women.
“I would let them know that they need to get out ASAP. It’s not fun and it’s not cute, even if they love that person it’s not worth being beat over,” said TJC student Corneisha Edwards, photography major.
All of the East Texas Crisis Center services are free so any TJC student is welcome at any time. The Crisis Center is funded through grants such as HHSC the Health and Human Services Commission, which is the biggest grant they get, also VOCA Victims of Crime Acts, O.A.G Office Attorney General and the United Way grant. The East Texas Crisis Center is completely confidential.
“If a husband comes up here, if anyone comes up here, everything here is confidential. If the police come up here looking for somebody, if they don’t have a warrant or a subpoena, we don’t tell anybody who is in our shelter,” said Carney.
There are 84 other shelters in the state of Texas. They can be found on TCFV.org, Texas Council of Family Violence.
For more information, contact the East Texas Crisis Center at (903) 509-2526 or www.etcc.org.
Editor’s note: The victim that was interviewed wished to remain anonymous due to her circumstances.