Issue 4, Dec 2014
                                                                                                                                       

 

FSC Court Advocates Empower 

Survivors to Seek Prosecution

 

Family Safety Center Court Advocate Supervisor Laurie Lucci has recently had the pleasure of spending a bit of time in a natural setting in the countryside outside of Minneapolis, thanks to a generous grant to DVIS from the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women. Laurie and three FSC advocates have been taking part in training through the 
Family Safety Center Court Advocate Supervisor Laurie Lucci

Advocacy Learning Center, an 18-month immersion program in Social Change Advocacy: A Focus on Institutions, attended by about fifty people from different parts of the country, including Hawaii and Guam. So far they've been there twice, and will go one more time before going on site visits.

 

"It's an intense program," said Lucci. "We also meet regularly by phone and webinars, as well as site visits. We have three to four webinars per month and workbook assignments, including integrating some of the things we've learned into our protocol here, such as what we can do as advocates in empowering survivors to be willing to be a part in the prosecution of domestic violence and sexual assault cases."

 

DVIS has two advocates at the courthouse and three at the FSC and one with the Rapid Intervention Team. "Advocates assist victims with safety planning, help them do their EPO paperwork, provide information about the criminal justice process; and find resources for them such as clothing, food and housing. Everyone has a different specialty and perception of what they want to do for someone. For me, I always want to find out where the perpetrator is, where the children are if any and the best and safest way to serve the EPO," says Lucci. "I'll look at the alleged perpetrators history, if they are on probation or parole and what type of crimes they have committed. This is a huge part of safety planning ... knowing where the perpetrator is and where the kids are. Then I want to know what the survivors support system looks like, does she have friends, family, etc.? If not, then after getting the EPO served I assist in safety planning based on the perpetrators history and what the survivor tells me. What I see and know as abuse might not be seen and interpreted the same way by the survivor   I let them know what's okay and what's not, and what she needs to do to be safe. Sometimes they have no idea of the abuser's legal problems, such as whether or not he is on probation, so I get a picture of what's going on and whom the players are. I might want the survivor to go to the shelter before we serve the EPO, find out how much the survivor is on board with this and then I can kind of gauge how that's going to go. I reiterate how important it is for the victims' children to be safe."

 

"Jealousy, unemployment, and substance abuse are key factors for high lethality cases that can play a role in the recent homicides in Tulsa, the rage of jealousy ... when the victim leaves, that's when lethality goes up," said Lucci. "We tell survivors if you're going to leave you need to have a plan because that's when the lethality is the highest. Most of the women killed here in Tulsa over the past few months were in the process of leaving. If you can get the word out to people who are thinking about leaving, make sure they talk to someone about leaving first."

 

The FSC advocates let survivors know they can get help for free. Many EPO cases will be consolidated into a paternity or divorce case so they can also prepare survivors for that. "We tell them they can get an EPO, which is in effect for two weeks, but they need to think about what happens after that," said Lucci. "The EPO does not stop there because in two weeks they will need to come back for a full hearing, and if they have children on the EPO they may need to get an attorney for which often they may not have the money."

 

When we are fully staffed we can take the most serious cases to our legal department to be reviewed by our attorneys.  We also have a list of attorneys who take some cases pro bono or at a reduced fee. We also provide clients with information on Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Neighbor for Neighbor, etc.  Many times they might need counseling, mental health treatment, and substance abuse treatment and we will provide those resources to them.  Many times they aren't ready to leave the relationship, so we try to get them into counseling at DVIS. But here at FSC our clients are in crisis mode and many aren't ready to make those types of decisions. Sometimes they may just need shelter, clothing and food."

 

"We're not here to split everybody up. If we have a career criminal we're going to look at that case differently than a couple who has been married for 15 years and has three children. Sometimes when we're talking to people we might find out they don't even need an EPO, then we come up with a plan that's better than filing an EPO. There are always other options. People know that we're here, the police, attorneys, professionals in the community, have made many referrals This is a good place to come, sit down, talk about the resources and come up with a plan."

 

The two courthouse advocates are focused on getting the protective orders filed, and sometimes while at the courthouse they run into people who need help. "If they see someone sitting at the courthouse crying and ask if they can help them sometimes they can lead them to the FSC or they may do what they need to do for them at the courthouse. If they don't have an attorney and the perpetrator has one, our advocates can help them with those communications," says Lucci.

 

Before coming to the FSC, Laurie supervised the men's program at DVIS where she facilitated men's groups. "A lot of the men were married or in committed relationships with children and wanted to stay together. Our goal was to teach the men about the cycle of violence, healthy relationships, parenting, ways in which to handle stress, how to be accountable for their behavior." said Lucci. "Most of them are still with their partner and want to stay with their partner."

 

"DVIS and FSC communicate back and forth and collaborate with each other on lethal cases to do what's in the best interest and safety of the survivor, at the counseling and advocacy level. We make referrals for the children and we might have someone who needs immediate counseling so we refer them to DVIS by making a phone call and getting them right in. The best-case scenario is that the survivor comes here for an EPO, they already have their children and important necessities with them and have already been in counseling at DVIS for a while and are ready to leave. Usually that's not the case though."

 

As for the biggest challenges facing the advocates in 2015, Lucci says they need more resources for Spanish-speaking clients at the Tulsa County Courthouse and a Spanish-speaking advocate on staff. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Childcare Specialist Sharon Harris 

Knows What Kids in Crisis Need

 

DVIS Childcare Specialist and Master Teacher Sharon Harris has over thirty years experience working with young children, as the director of the after care program at Eugene Field Elementary, with the CAP Head Start program, and DVIS. She also worked at the DVIS shelter, where she first met Tracy Lyall, DVIS Executive Director. She's in heaven in the childcare digs at the new FSC facility. 

Most of the kids call her "Miss Sharon"

 

"The childcare room on Harvard was probably 8' x 10' for all of those kids. Some days I was like, oh my gosh ... one summer day there were twelve kids in there! Way too many for that room," said Harris. "When we were on Harvard, I would have 450 to 500 kids come through here in a year. As of 12/10/14, I've had 787 kids since October of 2013. With the Family Safety Center able to help more people, I wouldn't be surprised if we had close to 1,000 children come through here in a year. Thanks to the major gifts of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the childrens' spaces here are amazing. We are the happiest place ever."

 

Sharon tries to make the kids feel at home when they come to the Family Safety Center. "Last week I saw three kids with no coats or shoes, they only had on the bare necessities ... pajamas and mom's slippers. She had to leave quick," said Sharon. "The kids were six, four and two. I was so happy because we had things here for the kids to wear and we were able to get them what they needed. I went back to my supply closet and found three pairs of shoes to fit them, and three coats, and I gave the mom some jeans. The mom just gave me a hug. That made me feel good, it really made me happy. My church, All Souls Unitarian, gave me ten gently used or new coats recently and that helped out in this situation." 

 

She says, "We have kids who come through here who need therapy because they've been in a traumatic situation. Sometimes they have ADHD or other developmental problems. I had a teenager, he was like 14, and his sisters and brothers were fine, but he had his hand over his eyes and wouldn't look at me. So I just left him alone. He thought it was his fault. After a few minutes I asked him if he'd like to help me put some stuff up, and he just jumped up to help me. After that he was okay." 

 

"When you have a kid come in here and tell you "my dad says he's going to kill us," I just want to be here and make them as comfortable as possible. I let them know that I'm here for them and want them to enjoy themselves while they are here. Once they can trust in you then certain kids start talking," says Sharon. "I tell them they are in a safe place and their mom is here to help them and things will get better.


Some are afraid they won't be able to be with their mom anymore and I tell them this is just a safe place for them to be while their mom is doing some business."

 

"We have a lot of volunteers from RSVP who help out in our room, and some wonderful ladies from the Montereau Retirement Community donated tons of stuff to the room," said Sharon. "Home Depot made our rain gutter shelves for our books, Gloria Bowden and her sister make our blankets we give the kids. I always try to give the kids something to take home with them, depending on their age, either books, teddy bears, beanie babies, blankets, handmade quilts. Older kids like to get the blankets too. Origami master and LASO attorney Julie Goree gave the room the most wonderful and colorful origami tree. We've had so much support it's been great."

 

 

 

HOPE 
is here.

Camp HOPE California was the first statewide camping and mentoring initiative in the United States to focus on children exposed to domestic violence. Camp HOPE California grew out of the vision and work of the San Diego Family Justice Center and the National Family Justice Center Alliance. The vision for Camp HOPE California is to break the generational cycle of family violence by offering healing and hope to children who have witnessed family violence. Camp HOPE provides weeklong camping experiences to children at no cost to them or their families.
Photos courtesy Camp Hope California

Soon this experience will be enjoyed by Oklahoma children affected by domestic violence with Camp HOPE Oklahoma, thanks to the Tulsa Area United Way.

 

Last month, FSC's "Camp Hope" team led by John Hickey, with Matt Hancock and Summer Knox of the YMCA of Greater Tulsa, Dr. Chan Hellman, of OU/Tulsa Research Center and FSC Executive Director Suzann Stewart, made a ten minute presentation to a funders panel of the Tulsa Area United Way in application for an Innovation Grant for FSC's Camp Hope Project for this summer. The FSC prepared a power point presentation, and John led the show.

 

A week later the FSC was informed that the panel awarded FSC the full $65,000 request to produce two weeks of Camp Hope this summer with partner YMCA at Camp Takatoka! "FSC board member John Hickey was instrumental in helping us develop our successful presentation, and masterful at keeping us within the ten minute time frame! The panel of five judges must have agreed," said Stewart.

  

Dr. Chan Hellman, Director of the Center of Applied Research for Nonprofit Organizations at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, said "Hope is strongly associated with campers feeling comfortable around others, feeling like part of a group, being accepted, trusting others, and the belief that they will achieve their dreams."

 

Dr. Hellman and his team at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa are finalizing the research results from this summer's Camp HOPE California, but have already confirmed powerful positive impacts in the lives of the children and teens. "The IRB-reviewed research design measured HOPE in the lives of the children coming to camp - measuring their HOPE Index before, right after, and 30 days after camp. The HOPE Index is a validated instrument which quantifies and measures hope in the lives of children exposed to trauma and abuse," said Hellman.

 

Summer Knox, YMCA Camp Takatoka and Camp HOPE Oklahoma 
Camping Services Director
Summer Knox, YMCA Camp Takatoka and Camp HOPE Oklahoma Camping Services Director visited Camp HOPE California this past summer, and is thrilled with this news.

 

"Resident camp, unlike any other experience, provides a life-changing experience for each camper. Camp Hope does this while also creating a safe place for each participant to heal and thrive," said Knox.

 

"After traveling to California and visiting Camp Hope, I saw first-hand the dynamics of this particular process. Each day I witnessed these youth bonding through similar experiences and how it works so well. Daily they learn to find hope in one another through a variety of camp activities. In the evenings they share these experiences with one another around the campfire. With each caring adult and counselor they are given hope that someone does in fact care about them, for their future and for their success. Providing this opportunity to the youth of our community is vital for the change needed in our future."

 

Knox praises Camp HOPE California's staff, "Camp HOPE California is so successful because of its amazing staff and leadership. Camp HOPE Oklahoma plans to works closely with the same leadership to equip our staff will everything they need to help each camper succeed. After seeing the change that happens with these campers from day one to the end of just one week is incredible. I am very excited to bring this to Oklahoma!"  

 

 



Kids - The Most Vulnerable Victims

 

  • More than three million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year
  • Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates (30% to 60%)
  • Children exposed to domestic violence at home are more likely to have health problems, including becoming sick more often, having frequent headaches or stomachaches, and being more tired and lethargic
  • Children are more likely to intervene when they witness severe violence against a parent - which can place a child at great risk for injury or even death
New LGBTQ Survivor Group Forming

As part of the FSC VOICES Survivor Group, LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault will begin meeting this winter at the Oklahoma Center for Equality located at 621 East 4th Street. 

 

Same sex relationships aren't immune to intimate partner violence. OKEQ Executive Director Toby Jenkins says, "Recently someone from the Equality Center was in a violent relationship and was embarrassed by it. Finally it got to the place where this person was almost killed. The FSC and DVIS were just wonderful at helping her realize what a difficult situation it was through no fault of her own, and that she had not done anything wrong, but had been a victim of a deadly situation."

 

If you or someone you know is interested in being a part of the VOICES survivor group, please email info@fsctulsa.org.

 

 

 

    
Family Safety Center
600 Civic Center, First Floor Police Courts Building
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103
918-742-7480
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This newsletter was financed in whole or in part by funds from 

the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as administered by the City of Tulsa. 

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