Lori, a local mother of three, told the Herald she had been a client of the Pacific County agency off and on during a 14-year abusive marriage. “I had gone to CSN many times over the years and each time went back to the abuser with the hope it would be different,” she said. “You go back for complex reasons – children, finances, the need to be loved.”
An injury in February 2008 proved to be the clincher. “I came in with the last injury, the last assault. It was about a week old, I guess. I was punched out of the blue; it was a really severe punch to my cheek. I was working full time, and went to work the next morning; it was awful.
“The first thing they did for me was medical attention. They sent me to a doctor to get a CT scan for my injury; that was a necessary service. I had suffered physical abuse for so long; I still suffer – from being thrown into walls and floors, having broken toes and fingers and ribs. I feel fortunate to be alive.
“They also gave me an attorney through Northwest Justice Project, and the attorney was at no cost to me. I was able to file for divorce and a protection order and the right to be in my home with my child.
“If it wasn’t for Crisis Support Network, I’m not sure I could have endured it all,” Lori said.
Lori is one of hundreds who have been helped through the services of the Crisis Support Network and the compassion of its advocates. A staff of 13 runs the Pacific County agency under the direction of a seven-member board of directors. Funding comes from contracts, or grants, for a wide range of services that extend beyond situations like Lori’s.
“When I started as director, we had six contracts and now we have 21,” said Kris Camenzind, executive director of the agency. “A couple of the grants, or contracts, we have are not really geared toward domestic violence or sexual assault; however, our services really complement each other.”
Through these contracts, the Network provides services such as:
ü Medical, legal assistance and systems advocacy for domestic violence and sexual assault victims.
ü Assistance for victims of general crime. “We recently obtained the general crimes contract, for the victims of any crime – identity theft, DUI, robbery, assault, homicide.”
ü The Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline for the entire state. However, funding for the hotline has been reduced from 24 hours a day, “to 8-to-5”, she said.
ü Therapy for sexual assault victims and secondary victims. The therapist, Caarl Landerholm, can assist those who have recently been assaulted or adult victims who remember assaults later, as well spouses and siblings of sexual assault victims. Landerholm is also a pastor at The Willapa Methodist Church
ü An advocate for 40 hours a week for the women who live at Pacific Pearl Apartments in South Bend. The advocate provides wrap-around supportive services to the tenants. This is a joint partnership with The Joint Pacific County Housing Authority, which owns and operates the apartments. The project is referred to as A Permanent Supportive Housing Project.
ü A bilingual staff member through a program called Crossing Borders. This staff person does outreach into the Latina community to provide services for those who don’t speak English and informs the community about their options if they are or have been victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. “She is a community activist in her own non-English speaking community. She has gone through everything you can possibly imagine; she’s a great example,” Camenzind said.
ü Prevention training in the schools. Domestic violence and sexual assault advocates teach a 10-week course called Boys Council or Girls Circle in all the junior high schools throughout the county. Another 10-week anti-bullying class, “Let’s Get Real”, is available for the schools.
ü CSN is partnered in a contract called STOP, Specialized Training for Officers and Prosecutors. Camenzind said this grant encourages county and municipality law enforcement and prosecutors, with victim services, to create a coordinated community response for female victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
ü “Gates of Hope”, a $250,000 grant from the Gates Foundation to help victims who wouldn’t otherwise leave an abusive relationship in fear of becoming homeless or already homeless. This contract offers the Network flexible spending “so we can assist victims of domestic violence from being homeless,” Camenzind said.
“If a lady calls us and says she fears leaving her abusive husband because she may face homelessness – a perfect example is an older woman – one of the options of Gates of Hope is perhaps to help pay for her first and last month’s rent, help her find a job, or go back to school. We never want women to not having a place to live as a reason not to leave.”
One case involved a woman who had a good job but had been turned out of her home by her husband, Camenzind said. The woman continued going to her job, but due to the lack of ready cash, she slept in the woods, using a rock as a pillow, until she found out about the Crisis Support Network.
Camenzind is adamant that the public should know no funds are paid directly to clients using their services.
“Clients are never given money,” Camenzind said. “Everything CSN does financially on the client’s behalf is paid directly to the service provider. If it’s rent, we pay the landlord; if it’s car repair, we pay the mechanic; if it’s for the schools, we pay the schools. We have very, very clean audits from an outside source.”
Quick payment to local businesses makes this process easier for the Network. “We can go in and say we’ll pay for this, and we’re credible,” Camenzind said. “Our reputation has gotten around to the businesses that we’re good for our word.”
The end result, though, is always to provide a new way of life for their clients.
“We empower them by talking them through their choices, supporting the choices they make, and walking beside her as she is going through what she is doing,” Camenzind said. This could be helping her get a driver’s license, learning how to go grocery shopping or just having someone stand by them.
The job is challenging for those working at the Crisis Support Network, not only providing help for those who need it but also maintaining their own peace of mind while dealing with the problems of others.
“Our staff is really good at knowing that no matter how crappy our day is, we’re really fortunate to be going home where it’s safe, and we have jobs,” Camenzind said. “Our day is always better than our client’s day.”
The most difficult cases are those dealing with sexual assault of children, she said. “There were eight cases of rape in December, alone. Normally the abuser is somebody in their family or somebody they know; (their home and family) is supposed to be their safe place,” Camenzind added.
“Of course, we’d love to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault,” Camenzind continued. “Staff would love if our community held a higher standard for those that have committed domestic violence or sexual assault and held them accountable. But when that’s not happening, our job is figuring out how to empower women and continue to work with those women.
“To get to know people in their greatest hour of need and walk with them through the system, and to watch them succeed and become safe, that’s when we are rewarded,” Camenzind said. “When the system works for them, that’s when we are rewarded. When our clients are happy the system has worked, that’s when we are rewarded.”
Lori said the support she got at the Crisis Support Network began with compassion. “They were professional yet very compassionate. That was something lacking totally in my life. They make me proud of what I’ve accomplished.”
For more information about the Crisis Support Network, check out the website at www.crisis-support.org or call the 24-hour line, 1-800-435-7276.
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