Sources of Help for Victims of Domestic Violence
There are professionals and officials whose job it is to help you get safely out of your situation, to help you get justice, and to help you put together a new life.
Victim Advocates: Connecting with a victim advocate is a good place to start because you can discuss all of your doubts, fears, and questions and be assured that your conversations are confidential. Their job is to support your decisions, answer questions, help you find counseling, explain how the court system works, and to help you with a protective order. They are good listeners, and can inform you of your options and give you advice. Advocates have no official powers. They cannot file charges against the abuser, make an arrest or approve a restraining order. Advocates can help you get the justice and protection you deserve. The LaSalle Parish Victim Advocate can be reached at 318-992-2067.
911 Operator: 911 operators are trained to handle your emergency domestic violence call. They help you remain calm, ask you critical questions and give you emergency advice. Remain on the line as long as you safely can, preferably until the police arrive. Tell the operator as much as possible about your situation and past abuse. If you are unable to speak, do not hang up! By dialing 911, your address will be automatically located. The operator can also gain critical information just by listening to what is going on in the background of the call.
Police: You can report to the police at any time, though it is better to call immediately after the abuse. Tell them about the abuser’s criminal behavior towards you…the physical/sexual violence, threats of harm, vandalism, kidnapping, holding you against your will and violation of restraining orders, as well as insults and emotional abuse. Do not hold back. Tell the officer everything. Show them your injuries and let them take pictures. The report the police write can be the most significant document in a restraining order hearing, contested child custody and other legal matters.
Domestic Violence Shelters and Programs: Here is where you would call if you need immediate shelter. In addition to safe housing, victim advocates, counselors, support groups, children’s programs, health care, education are other services offered. The Wellspring Alliance for Families is the program for LaSalle Parish. The 24-hour, confidential hotline is 318-323-1543 or 800-716-7233. They have an office right here in Jena, across from the courthouse where a caseworker will help you.
District Attorney’s Office: Law enforcement will send the crime report to the district attorney, who will decide whether or not to file formal charges against your abuser and what the charges will be. If your abuser is not charged with a crime, unless you object, that will be the end of the case. If the abuser is charged, you can get the answers to questions by speaking with the receptionist. As the case progresses, the district attorney’s office or the victim advocate can answer your questions.
Remember: This information will get you started on your struggle to gain freedom from domestic violence. Each individual path is unique. You will have many more questions and needs along your journey. Ask for help. Do not give up. You deserve peace, happiness, freedom and justice and all of the help required to get you there.