Submitted by Emily Bilcher, Associate Director of the Family Safety Network
This piece was originally published in the May 5, 2016 issue of the Teton Valley News as part of the weekly Nonprofit Spotlight presented by the Community Foundation of Teton Valley.
A woman nervously walked into Family Safety Network after being referred by a community partner. She was reaching out after years of verbal and physical abuse. She was greeted with a warm smile and asked “How can I help you? Would you like to talk?” One staff member helped to settle her kids, give them snacks and toys to play with, while another staff advocate listened to her story, asked questions about her and her children’s safety, and directed her toward resources to help in her situation. After an hour of conversation, through tears, she said, “I had no idea that this place was here and that there was help available for me. [He] always told me that nobody would help, that nobody would care.”
All of the situations are different. Some community members come to us out of concern for a coworker or family member. Others clients are wanting to talk through a relationship that they don’t think is abusive, but feels controlling and scary. Victims of domestic violence and sex assault are referred to us through law enforcement, counselors and the hospital. Sometimes clients are in need of shelter; others are looking for tools and resources to help them maintain their safety inside of their relationship. No matter what the situation, staff at Family Safety Network is here to offer free, confidential, nonjudgmental service to victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Family Safety Network was founded in 1994 by two local women who wanted to help a friend. Today, we have four staff members, all trained victim advocates including one bilingual advocate, and nine trained volunteer advocates that manage our 24-hour hotline and our organization serves an average of 300 clients and families each year. Our mission is simple. We partner with individuals and communities to eliminate violence, abuse and oppression. We see a world without gender based violence and we’re taking steps to get there. Our work is vital. It means something to help a family live without violence. It makes an impact when children have healthy parents and live without fear.
Teton Valley breaks no statistics when it comes to domestic violence and sexual assault. 1 in 3 women will be a victim in her lifetime. Let that number sink in the next time you are at a school event, a hockey game, staff meeting, skiing up at Targhee or taking your dog for a walk around the neighborhood. Domestic and sexual violence are not the problem of a particular race, religion, economic level or location. There is not one community that is immune. Believe it. It happens here, the same as it happens everywhere.
Together, we can work to create a community that is free of violence, abuse and oppression. Know the resources. Take part in our community events. Caring, thoughtful, engaged friends and neighbors are our greatest resource. Let Family Safety Network help.
If you are affiliated with a Teton Valley nonprofit, we want to hear from you! Help us share why Teton Valley nonprofits matter. Each week, the Community Foundation will highlight a local nonprofit in the pages of the Teton Valley News. Email Dawn Banks, Marketing and Programs Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 208.354.0230. We look forward to helping share your story and join the conversation on social media using #WhyItMatters!