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Lewes, Delaware
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September 26, 1997     Cape Gazette
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September 26, 1997

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16 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, September 26 - October 2, 1997 Violence Continued from page 15 Most domestic violence in- volves acts of aggression against women, said Rowland, but it is important for the public to realize that domestic violence has total disregard for age, socioeconomic status, race or anything else. Any- one can become a victim. "A lot of times 'battered women' are depicted as poor, wimpy people, but most of the women I meet have a great amount of courage and face tremendous obstacles to get their lives back on track again," said Rowland. Often, she said, the biggest ob- stacle is the judicial system. When women become victimized and begin the legal process, she said, they may find the judicial system overwhelming and confus- ing. Support groups, said Row- land, often provide women with information about services avail- able and how to proceed through the court system. "It's a place to go to be able to talk about the things you need to deal with," said Rowland. Most often the issues are centered on children, how to cope, finances or navigating the court system. The shared experiences of other vie- tims are beneficial, she explained, noting that support groups are available in many of the Sussex County communities. Part of the domestic violence re- sponse training for the police in- cludes learning about victim ser- vices. The police, said Rowland, "can't know everything, so this training is important so they at least have a grasp of where to point somebody." Police officers trained about re- sources not only enhance support group outcomes; they also pick up the slack for women who do not participate or are unaware of sup- port groups. Sykes said, "The most impor- tant thing is to get victims the ser- vices they need to get out of the situation or deal with the situation. A big part of the training is for of- ficers to know what resources are out there for the victims and what the process is after an arrest is made." Until a year ago, state police re- sponses to domestic calls were re- ported with other reports. For ex- ample, if a man beat his wife, the reporting procedure called for list- ing it as an assault. Now, the state police use separate report forms for all domestic incidents, regard- less of whether they are acts of vi- olence. Troopers give copies of the re- ports to victims, and the back of each report lists the resources in each county and those services available statewide. Sykes indicated that the domes- tic violence response training en- hances sensitivity to domestic vio- lence issues, and one of the most outstanding seminars in the train- ing course is when the law en- forcement officials see videos and hear taped recordings of actual 911 calls. Typically, she said, police are not exposed to the problems at that level. Dispatchers let them know the nature of a complaint and where to go, but they do not usually hear the actual calls for help. Sykes recalled one tape where a little girl screamed during a 911 call. "I think it's an eye opener for officers to hear that end of it," she said. "It sends chills through you." Rowland said she is very pleased that Delaware is expand- ing the domestic violence re- sponse training to the front-line law officers, because research in- dicates it is those police officers who have the greatest impact on the problem. "The women who did the best were those whose very first con- tact was with the police, who were very helpful," said Rowland. Their help, she said, was that they encouraged reporting the crimes and had supportive attitudes. "Right off the bat, the women felt more confident about doing some- thing, then," she said. "I don't think [the victim] nec- essarily has to feel that she's agreed with," said Rowland, "but just feel supported." "Fighting and preventing vio- lence against women and children requires a unified, problem-solv- ing approach," said Biden. "'The goal is helping victims and pre- venting a battered wife, who has a protection from abuse order, and has frantically ecalled 911, from becoming another domestic vio- lence-related murder statistic." When any act of violence is oc- curring, it is an emergency, and Kern/Kester photo Beebe Medical Center sponsored the Silent Witness Project exhibit during the week of Sept. 22 through Sept. 26. The ex- hibit, part of a national project, memorializes Delaware vic- tims who lost their lives through acts of domestic violence. The exhibit travels throughout the state. The project is part of a national movement to keep the public aware of the issue. The Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence and 48 other states will meet in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Oct. 18, for "The March to End the Silence.  Over 1,500 silent wit- nesses will be on display beside the reflecting pool. The march will also have music, inspirational speakers and a can- dlelight vigil. A charter bus is available for Delawareans wishing to join the march. For more information, call Tammy Lerner at 302-658-2958. Participating organizations in the. project include the Delaware Center For Justice, Delaware State Police Victim Services, Department of Justice, Domes- tic Violence Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Coordinat- ing Council, Dover Police Victim Services, First Card Nation- al Bank, New Castle County Police Victim Services, Rape Cri- sis CONTACT, Violent Crimes Compensation Board and Wilmington Poliee Victim Services. the best course of action is to im- mediately call 911 for help. Statewide resources include the Delaware State Police Victim As- sistance Program at 1-800-VIC- TIM-l; Violent Crimes Compen- sation Board, 302-995-8383; Child Protective Services hot line, 1-800-292-9582; and Justice of the Peace Court Office of Victim Services, 1-800-870-1790 or 302- ...... Furniture Restorers, Inc. 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