Domestic violence task force host first public forum

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Judy Davis, executive director of The Crisis Center Inc., talks about funding and the budget at the domestic violence open forum at the Manhattan Public Library on Thursday night, Oct. 23, 2014. The discussion also covered how a domestic violence case is handled by the police and included a Q&A session. (Hannah Hunsinger | The Collegian)

The Riley County Domestic Violence Task Force hosted a public forum on domestic abuse Thursday evening, bringing attention to domestic violence awareness month. Presentations were given by panelists representing the Riley County Police Department, Office of the Riley County Attorney, Sunflower Bridge Child Exchange and Visitation Center, Pawnee Mental Health Services’ Batterer Intervention Program, Fort Riley Family Advocacy Program and Crisis Center, all involved in various facets of domestic violence issues.

According to Judy Davis, executive director of The Crisis Center, Inc., the discussion was the first hosted by the task force, and they were pleased by the turnout. The Center, Inc. aids victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault in Clay, Geary, Marshall, Pottawatomie and Riley counties.

“I was very tickled (by the turnout),” Davis said. “…I’m really happy that a lot of students were here. It’s your work, (students will be the ones) to fix everything.”

Attendees ranged from college students to other members of the community.

Rhett Brown, freshman in general business, attended the forum as part of her women’s studies class, taught by Angela Hubler, associate professor of women’s studies.

“I believe it was very informative, and it gave a lot of good information and helpful information,” Brown said.

The task force began with an overview from each panelist about the roles they play within a domestic abuse case, from the legal aspects of the process to how they coordinate and supervise family visits between offenders and victims with children.

After the panelists finished speaking, the floor was opened to the public for questions and comments. Topics discussed included funding difficulties, financial losses for domestic abuse aid programs, causes of domestic abuse, the disparity of the ratio between male and female victims, and how domestic abuse and child abuse rates compared to each other.

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, nearly 80 percent of states have reported their domestic abuse programs experiencing funding cuts, and approximately 90 percent of states reported decreases in private donations from 2011 to 2012. Despite this, 88 percent of coalitions reported an increase in demand from domestic violence programs.

According to the NNEDV, as a result of the cuts in funding and the increase in demand for the domestic violence services, as many as 416,500 fewer victims may be unable to receive services if current trends continue.

Jim Sherow (D), U.S. Congressional candidate of the 1st district, attended the forum to show his support of domestic violence programs. One of his reasons for running for the House of Representatives seat is the current representative Tim Huelskamp’s lack of support for women’s issues.

“(Huelskamp) voted against (domestic violence funding), and that’s the person I’m running against,” Sherow said. “That’s just one of the many reasons why I’m running against him. His support of this kind of women’s issues is zero, so you can look at his record and you’ll find that to be the case.”

Sherow has previously served Manhattan in the roles of city commissioner and mayor.

“While I was on city commission, I opposed cuts to the crisis center and to the emergency shelter,” Sherow said. “I worked very hard to try to keep those funded fully, understanding the problems. I worked in Aggieville to try to get a handle on date rape, which is also a serious problem. So I worked on all those issues.”

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