KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — In 2016, the YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley served 1,400 domestic violence victims. The organization has been helping victims for almost 30 years.
“The numbers that we have are just the people who reach out for help,” said Director of Anderson County Services Maggie McNally. “So we know that there is a whole other level of people who don’t reach out for help.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in 4 men will be a victim of intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetime.
The YWCA offers support to victims through its Victim Advocacy Program. Advocates in Knox and Anderson County help clients by meeting in a safe place and coming up with a safety program.
The organization provides free services including support groups, assisting with the court system, filing orders of protection and referring to legal aid.
In 2016, the YWCA assisted with 278 orders of protection petitions.
YWCA’s Karyln Brown says what makes the organization unique is the fact that its victim advocates are culturally specific. The YWCA has an advocate who is bilingual and is able to help the Latino community. Also, there are advocates assigned to help the immigrant/refugee population. The organization is hoping to have an advocate to help the African-American community.
“Culture, poverty and other elements can make domestic violence worse, but they also do not cause it. We know that power, control and a way of thinking causes domestic violence,” said McNally.
Also, the YWCA is able to provide housing to clients through its Keys of Hope Transitional Housing Program. The program houses 58 women in Downtown Knoxville.
Victim advocates help clients decide if they should seek shelter through the program, an emergency shelter or stay with a family member.
The YWCA recently started serving the Oak Ridge and Anderson County communities. The organization saw that there was a need that was not being met in the area. Community partners invited the YWCA to start services in the area.
“The YWCA uses an evidence-based danger assessment to help victims understand their level of danger and is dedicated to offering ever tool possible in order to help and make each victim safe.”
The organization actively works to spread awareness on domestic violence in East Tennessee. The YWCA educates students at area schools and after-school programs through its “Pledge Purple Week.” This year’s event will take place the week of Oct. 16. Also, the YWCA leads conversations in the community. On Oct. 19, there will be a discussion on how to safely intervene and talk about the issue at South College.