When you live in a close-knit community like Morgan County, it is easy to run under the assumption that nothing bad ever happens here. However, victims of domestic abuse in this county know the unfortunate truth behind the facade.
Fortunately, Your Community Connection (YCC) is aware of the needs in Morgan County. YCC announced that they have expanded their support groups and classes to our area. In order to keep things anonymous, a location will not be specified. Those needing assistance can find out the location by calling the 24-hour crisis line, (801) 392-7273 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the grand opening event, Morgan City Mayor Jim Egbert welcomed the YCC to Morgan. He acknowledged that even though we are a small town, we have similar problems to the larger cities. He expressed his gratitude to the YCC for making it easier for people in bad situations to get help closer to home.
Since the newspaper announced the arrival of the center, Egbert says he has had several people approach him asking how they can help. He relayed that a startling number of men who see their mothers abused end up killing the abuser.
YCC Executive Director Julee Smith said the need for volunteers in Morgan specifically is very high. She was a probation officer in Morgan briefly and communicated that Morgan is a beautiful place, but there is as much need here as anywhere else.
“We need people here locally who can help us spread the word and be a support to victims in the area,” she said.
The YCC represents victims from six weeks to 100 years old and beyond. Their mission is to provide comprehensive services to support and enhance the quality of life for all women, children and families. Their services include domestic violence assistance, rape recovery, housing assistance, parenting classes, courses that focus on children’s self esteem and alternatives to violence, open gym night, rape education and prevention, medical vouchers, Thursday night bar legal advice, thrift store and senior life care.
Tallie Viteri, a manager with YCC, said, “These things happen more than people think. We want people to feel comfortable coming to us. Most people in these situations have been controlled all their lives, so we like to let them take the lead. We are just here to guide them on their way. It is not a pushy environment at all.”
The YCC has a crisis center in Ogden with 26 beds for female victims and their children. But they are aware that violence knows no gender, so they also have a contract with Ben Lomond Suites for men who need assistance.
The volunteers and employees at the center are an amazing team. They go out on domestic violence calls with law enforcement at all hours of the day and sometimes in the middle of the night, just to assure that everyone has the support they need at that time of crisis. They can help victims attain protective orders, they are moral support for court dates, help get safety plans instated and refer legal services.
Marie Broadhead, bilingual rape recovery case manager for the YCC, stressed that these events are never the victim’s fault. So many in these situations feel a sense of shame, but it is nothing to be ashamed of. These are life-altering events and the road to recovery is a long one, but it is easier when you have a solid support system.
Sometimes it is easier to seek that support initially in an anonymous group like this where there is no judgment, than it is to go to family and friends. Starting here helps people be more comfortable with that next step.
Two victims of abuse stepped forward and told their story. It was touching as they relayed their excitement to volunteer and get involved in the healing process for others going through similar things. It is encouraging to see people who have made it through their own struggles step up and help others.
Melissa Wayment, child advocate at the YCC, helps assess the needs of children involved in these situations. They find resources for individual needs, put a safety plan into action and teach social and relationship skills. There is a 10-week course for children 4-12 years old, but they will sometimes make exceptions for older kids as well.
Wayment said, “There are many long- and short-term effects on children who witness violence.” Some of these things include phobias, violent behavior and depression.
To assist the parents in caring for their children while they are healing, there is also a child care center in their Ogden location. They care for up to 50 children at a time. The center is open to the public, but they hold some spots open specifically for the YCC moms while they put their lives back in order. According to Margaret Sanchez, child care manager, this center provides a positive environment that focuses on self-esteem.
Matthew Morris, a manager with YCC, gave an overview of this step-by-step process. He touched on services that are included that people may not be aware of. They will help people find jobs and housing. There is even a thrift store/donation center on the premises. Ten percent of the items are sold to the general public to help with overhead, but 90 percent goes directly to assist those going through the program. This helps people in the program obtain essentials like furniture and clothing when they first start out on their own.
Once someone has completed all the steps in the recovery process with the help of the YCC, they are assigned to Dominique Cory, aftercare case manager. Cory helps assure that those who need support through the transition phase don’t end up going back to a bad situation.
The YCC senior life care program is something the center is proud of as well. This program uses grants to do small home repairs for the elderly. They do things as small as changing a light bulb. The goal is to make their homes a safe place for them to be.
For more info. on these programs, or to volunteer, contact Dora Gutierrez, bilingual domestic violence victim advocate, at 801-689-1709.