Opinion

Our Voice: Thanking those who help with victims of violence

A week ago our community was shaken by violence.

It appears a man throwing rocks near a busy Pasco street was shot and killed by police after he tried to flee the scene. A witness using a cellphone recorded those tragic seconds and put them on the Internet, causing a media firestorm that has garnered national, even international, attention.

This is not a clip from a movie; it really happened.

Right now there is anger, sadness and anxiety overwhelming the community. This space on Thursdays is typically reserved for praising the good in the Tri-Cities, and we still want to do that today.

But we also want to acknowledge that the community has been severely affected by this shooting. Violence, unfortunately, reverberates and the wounds aren’t always physical.

So, in light of recent events, it seems appropriate to thank those in the Tri-Cities who deal with violence and its aftermath all the time, especially those who help victims of abuse and crime.

Domestic Violence Services

Domestic Violence Services of Benton and Franklin Counties is an agency that helps victims of domestic violence get out of abusive relationships and start their lives over again.

Thanks to a grant through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the program will be in an even better position to do that.

The foundation is donating $2 million for a five-year demonstration project statewide that will help keep domestic violence victims from becoming homeless. The program is being coordinated by the state Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Tri-Cities is one of the communities selected to receive some of that money.

Our local Domestic Violence Services program works with about 1,000 people per year, including about 120 families. It can provide emergency housing from a week to 30 days at its 25-bed emergency shelter and has four transitional housing units where families can stay up to two years.

But more financial resources are always welcome for abuse victims struggling to live in a stable home environment.

Erinn Gailey, director for the local domestic services program, said the agency will be looking for additional investors to help keep the program going in the long term and beyond 2019, when the pilot funding is scheduled to end.

There were eight murder cases in Benton and Franklin counties last year resulting in the deaths of 10 victims. Domestic violence was responsible for at least three of those. Many times, those who suffer domestic abuse suffer in silence.

For those who need someone to talk to, they can call the 24-hour crisis hotline at Domestic Violence Services, 1-800-648-1277. There also is help through the Support, Advocacy and Resource Center, or SARC. This is United Way agency that provides crisis services and education programs for the community. Its 24-hour crisis hotline, staffed primarily by volunteers, is 374-5391 and is for people suffering from any kind of abuse, not just from domestic relationships.

Helping victims of abuse and violence can be a heartbreaking task, and we are glad the Tri-Cities has so many caring individuals dedicated to this effort.

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