The Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas is a non-profit agency providing free and confidential services to survivors of domestic violence, teen dating violence, sexual assault, stalking and elder abuse. DVACK serves 10 counties and provides a variety of services to individuals in rural communities that have been affected by some form of violence. Available services include emotional support, crisis intervention and counseling, safety planning, advocacy, information/referrals, support groups, safe shelter, and assistance with protection orders.
In addition to survivor services, DVACK staff members conduct a multitude of free informational presentations and trainings to various community organizations, agencies, businesses, schools and individuals in an effort to raise awareness and educate our community about the dynamics of violence.
Awareness is the first step toward preventing and reducing family violence. Empowering individuals with the information, tools and resources they need to help victims of abuse is a critical component of any community engagement effort. Concordia community group members have recognized violence as a local issue and have taken steps to further increase community awareness. Last year, the Concordia Year of Peace Committee invited Don McPherson, a former NFL player and current social activist, to speak on men’s violence against women to the local schools and the general public. Local media, radio, and city commission members have supported DVACK’s awareness campaigns through articles, public service announcements, and proclamations.
DVACK is now in its third year of implementing the Teen Dating Violence Prevention Program in local schools, primarily utilizing the Expect Respect Youth Leadership curriculum. DVACK was fortunate to work with the entire fifth grade at Concordia Middle School for three weekly sessions during fall semester 2015-16. The students reviewed the dynamics of bullying, took part in team building activities and learned how to be active bystanders. Studies have shown bullying behaviors often lead into abusive behaviors in future dating and committed relationships, so working with youth to help eliminate bullying will help prevent future domestic and sexual violence.
DVACK greatly appreciates this collaboration with Concordia Middle School and hopes to provide Teen Dating Violence Prevention Services and Presentations to any and all of the area middle, junior and senior high schools.
Community engagement to end family violence is complex work, but changing society happens in small increments, one family and one step at a time. In order to reach survivors, it’s important to have strong connections with local service providers and various agencies. DVACK is grateful for the increase in collaborations in Concordia and has reported an increase in interagency client referrals.
DVACK depends not only on the assistance of local agencies in supporting survivors and raising awareness, but also our volunteers and community donations. Thanks to contributions from people in Concordia, we are able to give individuals and families the items necessary to provide for their health, safety and basic needs in order to move on to a violence-free life.
For more information on how you can help in or around Concordia, please call (785) 243-4349 or visit our website at www.dvack.org.
— Tanya Paul is a DVACK outreach specialist in Concordia.