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Domestic violence agency to open office in county

Staff writer

Local victims of domestic violence won’t have to look elsewhere for help after Safehope, a domestic violence agency based out of Newton opens its new office in Marion county.

Jan Jones, executive director of Safehope, based in Harvey county and serving Marion and McPherson counties, told commissioners Monday what services they will provide for Marion county victims.

The office should be open within a couple of months.

“We received funding and right now we’re looking for a location,” Jones said.

Jones said the non-profit will hire one full-time employee for an office in Marion. Interviews are already being conducted, she said.

One benefit of a Marion office is increased visibility, Jones said.

“Three out of five victims in Kansas do not know where these services are,” Jones said.

Safehope will also provide advocacy services for victims immediately after police are summoned, she said. That’s especially helpful when an abusive family member is given a restraining order.

“If the abuser is evicted, he has financial control,” Jones said. “Financial abuse is one of the key pieces.”

A Marion office will also make it less embarrassing for victims to get everyday items they need.

“Being able to give those services privately and confidentially is a great comfort,” Jones said.

Susan Robson, former county attorney, estimated 10 percent of criminal cases in the county stem from domestic violence.

“A lot of those are repeat offenders,” Robson said.

Marion police chief Tyler Mermis said he supports the proposal to have a local advocate.

“I totally believe we need an advocate,” Mermis said. “I hope they find a place and a person.”

Mermis said he has known Safehope’s director for many years and has much confidence in her.

Besides providing safety and services to domestic violence victims, Safehope’s goals include creating interaction between kids and law enforcement, she said.

“A lot of times the last time those kids saw law enforcement was when they were dragging dad out,” Jones said.

Mermis said officers try not to handcuff offenders in front of their children, but every situation is different. He also believes in fostering positive interaction with children.

“That’s kind of why I try to spend time in the schools,” Mermis said.

Commissioners voted to give $2,500 to Safehope to help with transportation costs and asked them to come back and give quarterly updates.

Safehope can be reached at (800) 487-0510.

Last modified March 9, 2017

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