Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

24/7 Crisis Line for abuse, crime survivors, operates along 38th

Posted on 25 June 2018 by calvin

Advocates recognize it takes a lot of courage to just pick up the phone, identify issues, offer options, and just listen

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
For those who don’t feel safe at home, the 24/7 Minnesota Day One Crisis Line, 1-866-223-1111 is a lifeline.

Advocates listen, offer options and help callers make a safety plan. It’s their choice to go to a shelter, use resources, or just talk.

The statewide Day One call center operated by Cornerstone at 2249 E. 38th St. handled 28,000 calls last year. The call center is the only one in the state that connects victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and general crime to emergency safe housing and resources from over 80 agencies. People can call via phone, text or online chat message at dayoneservices.org.

“We work together to make sure survivors get what they need in one call,” pointed out Day One Program Director Colleen Schmitt.

Before Day One began in 1995, someone might need to make 8-15 calls trying to find shelter. Today, Day One can search shelters throughout the state to find immediate housing for those trying to leave an abusive or unsafe situation, and then connect the caller to the shelter via a three-way call. Other resources are also available with a quick search of the regularly updated Day One database.

Photo right: There are many good services for domestic abuse survivors in the Twin Cities, but what sets Cornerstone apart is its comprehensive approach, according to Day One Program Director Colleen Schmitt. Programs include the Day One Crisis Line, Crime Victim Services Line, Emergency Services including a 35-bed shelter, Children, Youth and Families, Community and Economic Empowerment, and Civil and Criminal Justice Intervention. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Day One first operated through the Alexandra House in Blaine until it came to Cornerstone in 2005 and expanded. Schmitt, who has been in the field for 30 years, came with the call center.

Day One moved into space along 38th Ave. in January 2017, when it expanded to include a 24/7 General Crime Victim Services Line through funding by the Minnesota Office of Justice Programs (1-866-385-2699). At the same time, Cornerstone expanded to offer support to people who have experienced any type of victimization through crime. Cornerstone’s experienced staff members provide services through a trauma-informed lens to help individuals rebuild their lives.

Exerting control
Calls spike at the Day One Crisis Line once school lets out for the summer. “Many feel it is an easier time to get out of a relationship,” explained Schmitt. Another peak time is the day after a holiday. “A lot of times someone is trying to keep the family together during the holiday, and they need that extra support,” said Schmitt.

Rather than use the term “victim” found in the courts, Cornerstone staff members prefer the term “survivor” to refer to someone who has experienced domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking.

“We tend to use ‘survivor’ because it’s more empowering,” explained Schmitt.

The term domestic violence is used for “any pattern of physical, emotional or psychological tactics of control over another person,” stated Schmitt.

“It’s not always physical. It can be emotional. It can be financial. It can be threats over actual physical violence.”

The term domestic violence is pretty encompassing, but at its basic level it is about one person trying to maintain control over another, she said.

“A lot of calls we receive are from folks who are experiencing emotional abuse and are unsure how to identify that,” observed Schmitt.

Calling the crisis line is often the first step in figuring things out.

“It takes a lot of courage just to pick up the phone,” remarked Schmitt.

Callers often hear about the crisis line from family members or friends—or social media.

‘It’s not that bad’
Cornerstone staff members encounter many false stereotypes around why someone stays in an abusive relationship. Some are things the general society believes, and others what the survivors tell themselves.
• It’s really not that bad.
• They could get out if they wanted to.
• It’s better for the children to stay.

“In reality, it’s very difficult to leave for a variety of reasons,” remarked Schmitt.

Some survivors still love their abusive partner, and so they stay.

Others don’t have the financial ability to get out. Some fear that if they leave, they’ll be killed. In 2016, 21 people in Minnesota were killed in domestic-related homicides.

“It’s very difficult to find affordable housing now,” pointed out Schmitt. “The option may be to stay in the relationship because they have a place for their children to live. Leaving may lead to homelessness.”

There’s the belief that those with more money don’t experience abuse or feel stuck in a relationship, but that’s not accurate, according to Schmitt. “All their finances may be taken away by that abusive person,” she said. “I think that economics is a big reason why people stay.”

Abusers may turn children against their spouse or partner, convincing them that it is all the other one’s fault. Or, there is a threat of taking children away or threatening not to allowing future contact.

And even though more and more is known about domestic violence, it’s still a hidden problem, pointed out Schmitt.

“Some of it is we want to deny that something this horrific can happen,” Schmitt said.

Adding to the problem is that some people think that this type of thing should be kept within a family and not shared with others.
“The media tends to glorify extreme violence, so sometimes survivors compare themselves to that and say, ‘It’s not that bad in my situation,’” said Schmitt.

But she stressed that the emotional abuse can be just as severe as the physical. “Often it causes trauma that takes longer to heal,” she said.

Abuse effects on kids
The impact on children can be hard to pinpoint as it can just look like they’re behaving badly.

“What we know about children that experience domestic violence in their homes is that they may have physical and emotional symptoms,” said Schmitt. Children may complain of general aches and pain, such as headaches and stomach aches. They may also have irritable and irregular bowel habits, cold sores, bed-wetting, constant tiredness, and fatigue. Symptoms can mirror those of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and include short attention spans. They may appear nervous, exhibit out of control behavior, suffer from frequent nightmares, and distrust adults. They can be withdrawn or act out. School truancy is common.

Sometimes there is also child abuse going on which can show up as bruises or other psychological effects.

“It can affect them for a long time unless we do work in a trauma-informed setting,” said Schmitt.

Kids are often labeled as bad kids instead of helped.

Cornerstone is working to educate teachers and school staff on the dynamics of violence and how it can affect youth.

Staff members also focus on court services and education within the criminal justice system, working with police officers, custody evaluators, judges and attorneys.

A comprehensive approach
There are many good services for domestic abuse in the Twin Cities, but what sets Cornerstone apart is its comprehensive approach, according to Schmitt.

Cornerstone offers everything from the statewide crisis line to shelter to mental health services. There is someone to help with filing a protection order, multiple support groups to join, and one-on-one services offered.

Overall, they work to protect children, youth, and families.

When it comes to support groups, there are many to choose from. Some are topic-driven and look at financial literacy, economic empowerment, and general information about options. Others provide ongoing support for those 18+ and older adults, as well as children. Some offer support for family members and friends.

Cornerstone services for youth focus on one-on-one support and mentoring. Special staff members are assigned to the youth living in Cornerstone’s shelters.

Knowing that abusing pets is a way to control, intimidate and hurt other members of the family, Cornerstone initiated the Minnesota Alliance for Family and Animal Safety (MNAFAS) to help find safety for pets. Women in shelters often report they delayed leaving because of concern for their pet.

Cornerstone operates three offices in Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, and Minneapolis.

In addition to housing the two 24/7 crisis lines, the Minneapolis location on 38th St. is home to the general crime program. Plus a therapist is in the office several days a week to see adults and children.

“We are finding this a great location to be at,” said Schmitt, in part of because of its accessibility via light rail and bus.

Cornerstone will be expanding at 38th to offer additional support groups. Learn more at www.cornerstonemn.org.

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