Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fundraiser Will Finance Anti-abuse Efforts

The Sequoyah County CCR/SART (domestic violence/sexual assault team) will host a loaded baked potato, salad and fruit luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 12 at Immanuel Baptist Church at 1101 N. Wheeler Ave. in Sallisaw.

The menu will include a loaded baked potato, salad, fruit plate and a drink for $7.

Meals may be dine in or carry out. Deliveries will be made in Sallisaw only.

Call ahead orders will be taken. Those asking for delivery are asked to specify the time to deliver the order. To place an order call 918-315-8592 or 918-817-9012.

Cindy Smith, Coordinated Community Response (CCR) Team coordinator, said the organization has purchased food for 200 people, “And we hope we sell out.”

The CCR Team is funded only through donations. While some organizations that help domestic abuse and sexual assault victims receive state or federal funding, Sequoyah County’s CCR Team does not. Yet it is one of few organizations that makes the public aware of domestic abuse and sexual assault. That is why it is important to support the group’s fundraisers.

Smith, a police officer for over 20 years and the CCR coordinator for six years, is passionate about disrupting the cycle of domestic abuse.

“It is something we are not going to tolerate. We want a better life for victims,” Smith said.

Now, just as county schools are preparing for the new school year, Smith said the CCR Team has visited all the schools in Sequoyah County but one. They are meeting with teachers and instructing how to spot possible abuse victims in the classroom. The children may or may not have cuts and bruises that can be seen. But they may still be victims.

Smith explained that when children see mom and dad engage in physical violence in the home, perhaps a situation that has been going on their whole lives, they believe that is normal. And as adults, they may practice the same behavior.

Domestic violence is known to be a cycle that is hard to break, Smith said.

“The children are the secondary victims,” Smith said. “It is heart breaking.”

The sooner they can be reached and taught there is another way, the more likely it is the cycle will be broken.

To do that, CCR Team members visit with students, give away T-shirts, and enlist the aid of the schools SRO, or school resource officer.

“They bond with the kids,” Smith said, which opens the door to trust and communication.

And that leads to the delivery of that important message: “Abuse does not mean love.”

The Sequoyah County CCR/SART primary function is to help the victim. Smith explained the CCR/SART is a multidisciplinary team of people who partner to provide interagency, coordinated responses to domestic violence and/or sexual assault in order to meet the needs of victims and more effectively hold offenders accountable. The teams include police, district attorneys, medical personnel, advocates, counselors, and even shelter for those who must hide from the abuser. The system can be overwhelming for the victim, who needs someone to explain and stand by their side.

Now, Smith explained, the CCR Teams are also reaching out to the abuser.

“We thought maybe we were doing it backwards. Now we are getting the offenders help too,” Smith said. “We have a lot of things going on.”

The public can help by stopping by or ordering a lunch, and just making a donation. Smith said one organization donated $200, and others offer volunteers to help with the luncheon. They are a part of the solution.

And they all have one purpose.

“We want the community to stand up and say we won’t accept domestic violence,” Smith said.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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