When the man accused of committing intimate partner violence against Miranda Hayes was prosecuted, she dreaded each appearance in court, and there were several.
“I no longer see myself as a victim – I am a survivor – but at that time, I was a victim,” said Hayes, of Masury. “Going into that courtroom just made everything feel a million times worse. You feel like you’re the one on trial.”
She worried whether there was enough evidence to convict. She worried whether she would be found a credible witness.
Luckily, she had someone looking out for her, a legal advocate from Someplace Safe, Trumbull County’s domestic violence agency.
“Their legal advocacy that they provided me when I had to go through all of the court processes helped more than anything that I could even imagine that I needed,” Hayes said. “When you are traumatized – domestic violence is a severe trauma – you cannot think clearly about what it is that you need. There are folks available that know exactly what you need, and they can make sure that you get it.”
The ability to provide this service is tenuous for an agency funded by donations and grants, Lauren Webb, shelter manager for Someplace Safe, said Jan. 29 at “Breaking the Silence,” a program on intimate partner violence at Penn State Shenango, Sharon.
“Due to funding cuts, we had a loss of advocates in the court system and the courts desperately saw that need,” Webb said. “Our agency was able to reach out and find alternative funding to bring people back in. That way, we’re able to help anybody in any court system, both the criminal and the civil. We know that it’s important. When it wasn’t there, there was a lot of outcry in the community for that need.”
Someplace Safe also operates a 48-bed shelter; a 24-hour crisis line; case management for shelter residents and county residents who live elsewhere; and help finding housing once the 90-day shelter period has elapsed.
“We have youth advocacy because we know that the only way we’ll be able to end domestic violence is to reach them early and talk about bad behaviors and how it’s not acceptable and what is best for them,” Webb said. “We do have a support group for the community and also support in-house for anybody that’s receiving services at the time.”
Someplace Safe’s crisis line is 330-393-3005. The shelter’s non-emergency number is 330-393-3003.