Spring River Adult and Child Services (SACS) is a local victims advocate service, which helps victims of domestic violence with orders of protection against an offender, as well as housing, clothing, transportation, food and any other need that might arise as a result of leaving an abuser.
SACS recently purchased a home that will be used to house domestic violence victims and their children. Mary Ann Jagow, SACS volunteer director, said the home is currently being remodeled and should be open soon, although a date has not been set.
Previously, SACS sent victims to Mountain Home or Melbourne or put them up in a hotel.
With a house, the local shelter will now allow women to stay locally out of harms way, where many may be already employed.
The new women's shelter will house women and children and the SACS' main office. The home was purchased with the donations of churches and local civic groups and individuals.
The organization receives no government funding. Instead, SACS' main fundraising efforts are through their Highland Thrift Store.
However, a stand-alone fundraiser for the organization will be held Oct. 29 at Highland High School.
The bean soup meal will be by donation only and entertainment will be provided by the well known Baker Family. There will also be a silent auction. For more information on the event, contact SACS at 870-994-2551.
SACS not only provides shelter and referrals to victims of domestic violence, but also maintains a domestic violence hotline, where victims can report domestic abuse and seek help.
When considering domestic abuse, many think of couples living together, or in serious relationships, dealing with physical violence.
Unfortunately, there are many forms of abuse, including sexual, verbal and emotional abuse.
The reality is that one in 11 high school students admit to being victims of physical domestic violence.
These teenagers may or may not be in a relationship with the offender.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, only one fourth of all physical assaults are ever reported.
Of these, 1.3 million women are victimized by someone they know or are in a relationship with; 85 percent of the reported victims are women.
SACS believes the best way to eradicate or curb the vicious cycle is through awareness and education.
In an effort to curb the abuse, parents and teenagers should become educated on statistics compiled by various researchers, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
One of the most startling is the fact that 80 percent of teens regard verbal abuse as a serious issue for their age group, and 80 percent of girls who have been physically abused in their dating relationships continued dating their abuser.
Equally alarming is the fact that 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship, said a boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
According to accounts of girls who have been abused, the majority of the time the abuse takes place in the home of one of the partners.
Ways to combat the problem require a team approach with counselors, friends, mentors, family and other adults in a position of leadership.
The majority of these types of abuses occur in girls between the ages of 16 and 24, giving any person who has a girl this age in their life a reason to become aware of signs and take part in activities to help eliminate the terrible cycle of teen violence.
According to the Web site teendvmonth.org, the purpose of the designation is, "Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Initiative was spearheaded by teenagers across the nation who chose to take a stand and put a stop to teen dating violence. In 2005, the importance of addressing teen dating violence was highlighted by its inclusion in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. "
Many girls do not even realize the pattern of abuse.
Examples of physical abuse are not blatantly as obvious as hitting, punching and biting, but can also include pinching, shoving, slapping and grabbing as well as intimidation tactics such as blocking doors and throwing things as well as the use of weapons.
Sexual abuse is not limited to rape, but also includes unwanted touching, as well as pressure to have sex and threats by the partner to find someone who will do what he or she wants sexually.
Emotional and verbal abuse is equally as harmful to teens, who many times are already having an identity crisis in their lives.
The forms of emotional abuse include threats, possessiveness, over dependency bordering co-dependency, mood swings, humiliation tactics, withdrawal of attention, threats and isolation from friends and activities.
Research has repeatedly proven that hitting is not the first step in abuse.
It normally starts with a history of verbal and emotional abuse and without being addressed can easily escalate to the more serious offenses of physical and sexual abuse.
These are all things that parents can discuss with their children. The Web site chooserespect.org states, "If kids learn the importance of respecting themselves and others at a young age, they are more likely to give respect in return. Learning about respect now helps kids get along with others, communicate, negotiate, make decisions and learn to be assertive. It's an important part of growing up, and talking about it early is important in establishing healthy patterns for the future."
Boys who witness violence by their parents or caregivers have the strongest risk factor of passing the violent behavior on to the next generation.
There are numerous resources available on the Internet for parents and teenagers, including media presentations, statistics, ways to educate, a schedule of television programming donated to educating the public on teen violence and ways to recognize it and eliminate it are readily available.
Some sites worth researching are: www.thesafespace.org, www.chooserespect.org, www.breakthecycle.org and www.loveisrespect.org, which offers video diaries and blogs from girls who have experienced and documented their journey in overcoming this very real emotional and physical issue that needs to be brought forth.
Only through education will the cycle of violence be broken.