Domestic violence and community assistance offered through Every Woman's Place

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– LEGAL NEWS PHOTO BY DIANA L. COLEMAN

Left to right, Racheal Glavich, EWP Adult Services Director; Jenny McNeill, Famlily Law Section Chair and Board member of EWP; and Crystal France, EWP staff member.


By Diana L. Coleman
Legal News

At its October meeting, the Muskegon County Bar Association Family Law Section hosted Rachel Glavich, LLM.S.W., Director of Adult Services at Every Woman’s Place (EWP).

Glavich gave an overview of the assistance and programs provided for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse for both adults and juveniles.  EWP provides 24-hour access to secure shelter with supportive staff available 24/7. It also provides case management and advocacy services and access to all other agency services.

EWP provided all present at the meeting with a folder containing brochures and booklets published by the center so that those practicing family law may have them available to pass on to their clients.

Glavich stressed the complete confidentiality of EWP when working with clients. “We base our services on what the victim needs or wants and we attempt to gain information. However, if the victim does not wish to share certain information, they can remain anonymous,” she said. The walk-in and crisis hotline are always available.  EWP has gone so far as to deliberately have no caller I.D. on its phone lines so if they are returning a call to someone who has called in, the home phone will not show the center’s number in the case the abuser happens to be at home when the call comes in.

There was a strong presence of bar members present for Glavich’s presentation as well as Circuit Court Judge John Ruck. The legal advocacy office for EWP is just outside Judge Ruck’s office and assists clients in getting and serving Personal Protection Orders.

If EWP is at capacity when a victim arrives or calls, EWP staff will find housing in another shelter in the area. Some victims actually want to be placed out of the immediate area. Glavich explained, “Some of the victims of domestic abuse are frightened to be in the immediate Muskegon area. If a victim calls from home or the hospital, or wherever they are at the time of the call, and they do not have transportation, EWP will send a cab to pick them up.” EWP will also see that transportation is provided to take the victim to another shelter if the EWP facility is full when the victim arrives.

A relatively new program EWP provides to local schools is a curriculum EWP’s staff presents to a target audience of eighth grade through high school students about “Dating Violence.” This program is well-received by area schools and plans are underway for expansion into more Muskegon County schools.

EWP provides transitional supportive housing for survivors and their dependent children, subsidized rent and/or financial assistance, family and individual activities, including parenting education and support groups.

EWP provides housing support by educating victims in tenant/landlord rights and fair housing laws, and disseminating resource information and referrals.

The legal advocacy and support services help with support during courtroom procedures, advocacy with other systems (Department of Human Services, landlords, etc.) and domestic violence education.

EWP provides materials to victims of domestic violence which may help them during violent times if they are still in the relationship. Safety planning includes:

• thinking of a safe place to go if an argument occurs—avoid rooms with no exits (bathroom) or rooms with weapons (kitchen);

• making a list of safe people to contact;

• keeping change on their persons at all times;

• memorizing all important numbers;

• establishing a “code word or sign” so that family, friends, teachers, or co-workers know when to call for help;

• thinking about what to say to the violent partner if he/she becomes violent; and

• remembering they have the right to live without fear of violence.

Those who have left the relationship should:

• Change their phone numbers.

• Screen phone calls.

• Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the batterer.

• Change locks, if the batterer has a key or the victim is unsure if he (she) has a key.

• Avoid staying alone.

• Plan how to get away if confronted by the abusive partner.

• If the victim has to meet her/his partner, do it in a public place.

• Vary daily routines.

• Notify school and work contacts.

• Call a shelter for battered women.

At the time a domestic violence victim leaves the relationship, she or he should take important papers and documents to enable applying for benefits or taking legal action. These include social security cards and birth certificates for the parent and all children, marriage license, leases or deeds in both names or just the domestic violence victim’s name, the checkbook, charge cards, bank statements and charge account statements, insurance policies, proof of income for both victim and spouse (pay stubs or W-2’s), and any documentation of past incidents of abuse (photos, police reports, medical records).

Glavich provided information on batterer traits which statistically hold consistently true. Traits include:

• Coercively controlling

• Entitled/self-centered

• Believes he/she is the victim

• Manipulative/good public image

• Skillfully dishonest

• Disrespectful, superior, depersonalizing

• Good early in relationship

• Externalizes responsibility

• Punishes, retaliates

• Batters serially

• Danger increases post-separation

• Denial

• Minimization

• Lack of empathy for the victim.

Glavich also discussed the continued services of Webster House Youth Services for children or young adults of domestic violence or those who are homeless. Webster House has now started  a “Foster Parent” program where the home serves as a shelter for children in the foster parent system that will come to the center, be cared for and counseled, and eventually be placed with another family.

“The foster program at Webster House has made it difficult for us to take in as many homeless children,” Glavich said. “We try to find them shelter, but we no longer have the housing space available to take in all the homeless juveniles that come to our doors.” EWP, however, will do all in the power and within the range of its contact agencies to see that the children are housed somewhere. If older, many of the homeless males are referred to the Rescue Mission.

The question and answer period following Glavich’s presentation was lively and very specific as to how to access EWP services.

Glavich was assisted by Crystal France of EWP.

Lunch for the October MCBA Family Law Section meeting was provided by the law firm of Ladas and Hoopes.

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