Frequently Asked Questions About S.A.F.E.R. (Stop Abusive Family Environments Rural Services) Project
Q: What is the SAFER Project?
A: This project is a region-wide conversation and partnership to help reduce the impact of the crimes of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking on seven rural Northeast Louisiana parishes: Caldwell, Franklin, Morehouse, Richland, West Carroll, East Carroll, and Tensas. The project officially began October 2008 based on the Family Justice Center Coordinated Community Response model and continues to resonate in the lives of our citizens today. The project is being conducted by partner agencies in these parishes on the front lines of addressing domestic violence (see list below). They have regular quarterly meetings as a Task Force (see photos at left) to share information and resources.
Q: What work will the project require?
A: The SAFER Project will be completed by work in three different task areas:
- Forming a task force (described above) including law enforcement officers, prosecutors, victim advocacy groups, government, and other related parties to share information and coordinate our work to fight these crimes.
- Increasing services in these parishes for victims of these crimes by offering more treatment, counseling, advocacy, and other long and short-term assistance at sites in each parish.
- Citizens and service providers in each parish will evaluate these crimes as a problem for the parish, make a list of all the services available for victims, identify additional needed help, and think of barriers for its citizens’ accessing services and ways to overcome those. This information will be made into an information campaign for the parish which will be publicized in the parish in an awareness ad campaign. A number of informational presentations and print materials will also be offered in each parish and in parish schools to help prevent these crimes by raising awareness of how to prevent them and to get help if a crime occurs.
Q: How will the participating partner agencies and communities benefit?
A: A survey conducted February 2008 showed that communities in the five S.A.F.E.R. parishes identified these needs to keep their citizens safer from the crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking:
· Knowing where to refer victims for services
· Greater cooperation
· Counseling to break the cycle of violence
· Safety planning
· Shelter for victims
· Support groups to help victims
· Community education
· Access to training for agencies dealing with these crimes
Q: How is this project funded?
A: SAFER is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Rural Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Assistance Program. This program supports projects designed to address and prevent domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in rural jurisdictions. The funding will pay for victim and prevention services on site in each parish as well as the many print materials to be distributed and the public awareness campaigns to be run in each parish. Much of this work will be donated by many area agencies, volunteers, and businesses. The funding will pay for the rest.
Q: How is this different from what we had before this project?
A: Task Force: Many different area agencies deal with those coping with or fleeing from domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This includes various law enforcement agencies, hospitals and other health care providers, domestic violence programs and shelters, rape crisis centers, and more. Businesses can be impacted, as their employees cope with the stress and lost productivity which victims of these crimes experience. The judicial system is crowded as offenders are prosecuted and jailed. All of those affected can be benefited if they share information and resources to respond to these crimes and their victims. Each one can focus on what it does best, which makes every dollar spent on the crimes as productive as it can be for our communities. While partner agencies have historically collaborated to the extent their budgets allowed, all have expressed an interest in building on these relationships and setting the stage for even greater future funding available to communities that collaborate.
More Services Offered On Site In Each Parish: This is especially important in rural parishes, where available funding is usually smaller and there are usually fewer services available for those who need them. Also, for some rural residents the distances that have to be traveled to nearby urban areas to access services make getting these services too expensive or inconvenient. Offering services in each parish removes this barrier for those who need help.
Education Campaign: One of the most common reasons that people don’t use helpful services is that they don’t know they are available. Not knowing about how to prevent a crime can also increase the likelihood one will be a victim. Getting information to people is an important part of reducing the number and cost of these crimes in our communities and citizens. To schedule a speaker for your group or organization contact the SAFER Program at 318-807-6200.
Future Benefits: This type of partnership and conversation among agencies and citizens places our rural communities on the leading edge of the nation’s efforts to end these crimes. This is a technique that has been tried and proven successful in communities and states across the country including in Louisiana. More people who need help get it, more help is available, and more citizens can recognize when they are at risk of being victimized by one of these crimes and know where to get help. Also, having a successful collaboration in place like this helps a community better compete for grants and other funds to fight these crimes and help the victims.
Q: Why does this matter?
A: Domestic violence is a killer in Northeast Louisiana. According to law enforcement reports in 2007 (most current available), there were 2,214 domestic violence-related law enforcement calls in Northeast Louisiana. That’s nearly three times the national average. The number of law enforcement calls in Northeast Louisiana for sexual assault in 2007 (based in part on estimates) were 160, nearly twice the 2007 U.S. average. The number of law enforcement calls for stalking fell from 67 in 2006 to 37 in 2007, well below the national average.
Q: What groups and agencies will be partnering in this project?
A: Law Enforcement: Caldwell Parish Sheriff’s Office, Richland Parish Sheriff’s Office, Rayville City Police Dept., Franklin Parish Sheriff’s Office, Winnsboro City Police Dept., Bastrop City Police Department, West Carroll Parish Sheriff’s Office, Oak Grove City Police Dept, Tensas Parish Sheriff's Office
Judiciary: 4th Judicial District Court, 5th Judicial District Court, 6th Judicial District Court, and 37th Judicial District Court
District Attorneys: 4th Judicial District DA, 5th Judicial District DA, and 37th Judicial District DA
Education partners: West Carroll Parish School System, Richland Parish School System, Morehouse Parish School System, Tensas Parish School System, and East Carroll Parish School System
Healthcare Partners: Richardson Medical Center, Morehouse District Missionary Hospital, East Carroll Parish Hospital, and Franklin Medical Center.
Faith Community Partners: River of Life Church, Morehouse District Missionary Baptist Association, First Assembly of Mangham, Oak Grove First Church of God, Tri Association Baptist Missions
Other community partners: Family Justice Center of Ouachita, LA Dept. of Children's and Family Services and The Wellspring Alliance for Families, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Others are welcome and invited to join. See the contact information below.
Q: Who can I contact for more information about the S.A.F.E.R. Project?
A: You can contact:
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All materials and publications (written, visual, or sound) resulting from award activities shall contain the following statements: “This project was supported by Grant No. 2008-WR-AX-0029 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.