KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Over 78,000 domestic violence offenses were reported in the state of Tennessee in 2016, according to the Helen Ross McNabb Center. Ninety-one victims were murdered out of the result of domestic violence in 2016.
“We can’t know for sure why Tennessee has a higher rate of domestic violence than other states,” says Helen Ross McNabb Center Assistant Director of Victim Services Catherine Oaks. “We know that Tennessee ranks 4th in the country for women murdered by men.”
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says one in three women and one in four men will be victims of intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetime.
The Helen Ross McNabb center provides multiple behavioral health services in East Tennessee. Not only does the center offer help to domestic violence victims in Knox County, but also in Anderson and Roane counties.
“We have a great understanding of the risk that victims take by leaving their abusive situations and know that many times victims return to their abusers,” says Oaks. “This can be scary and emotionally draining. Our first and foremost concern is each person’s safety.”
WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with the center to discuss its services for domestic violence victims.
How does the center help domestic violence victims?
The Helen Ross McNabb Center has specific services tailored to the unique needs of victims of domestic violence. This includes the Family Crisis Center (FCC) emergency shelter, Transitional Housing, and Outreach Advocacy. We have a new, state of the art FCC shelter that has nearly doubled our capacity. We have 32 beds to serve victims of DV and their children. In addition to providing a safe and confidential shelter, we also provide counseling, support groups, 24-hour crisis hotline, safety planning court advocacy and accompaniment, referrals for housing, legal services, employment and education. Additionally, we have services specialized for children through the Jason Witten SCOREKeepers Foundation, which allows us to have male mentors for the children in a shelter.
Our Transitional Housing Program allows us to house victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking in on-site apartments. We also provide off-site housing assistance and can provide services for up to 24 months. This program also offers advocacy services, support groups, and safety planning.
Our Outreach Services are community-based and serve Knox, Anderson & Roane Counties. This includes education and outreach to the community. Additionally, we have advocates at the Family Justice Center that provide the following services: legal advocacy and assistance filing orders of protection, safety planning, transportation assistance, and referrals.
What if the person has children or other needs?
We provide services to all individuals who are victims of domestic violence regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion or background. We work with many victims and their children, and also many victims who struggle with addiction and other mental health disorders. We are fortunate to be part of such a large organization that has numerous programs to help meet the needs of the individuals we serve. We work closely with other HRMC and community programs to meet our clients’ needs.
How does the center provide housing and assistance with job placement?
“We know that Tennessee ranks 4th in the country for women murdered by men.”
The center provides emergency shelter to women (and children) and male survivors of domestic violence. Additionally, we have a Transitional Housing program that houses survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. We have 6 onsite apartments and can also assist with rent at other locations. Our advocates and volunteers assist survivors with job skills including resume building, interview skills, job readiness, and social skills, among others. We also assist survivors with financial management and other daily living skills. Many times victims of domestic violence are controlled by their abuser and not allowed to work outside the home or make financial decisions, so teaching these skills are crucial for independent living.
How does the center provide outreach to people in Anderson and Roane counties?
The center’s Family Crisis Center Outreach Advocate travels to Anderson and Roane counties to meet with clients. The advocate will connect with clients at court and through the district attorney’s office. The advocate also does outreach at the local mental health facilities, college campuses and through interagency meetings.
If you need help?
Some steps someone can take to prepare in escaping a domestic violence situation include:
- having a list of names and numbers
- making sure your cell phone is charged
- having your important documents in one place
- have a small bag of essentials packed (medications, money, etc.)
- have a safe person to notify of your plans, and always use your instincts and judgment during a dangerous situation
You will also want to have local emergency shelter phone numbers saved for when you leave or are preparing to leave. You can call our FCC 24/7 crisis line at (865) 637-8000. You may also visit the Family Justice Center website for additional safety planning information.