Refuse to be victimized

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 29, 2003

In the wake of the hostage standoff of July 21, Suffolk’s Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson and Diane Bryant, director of the Victim/Witness program, offer a look at domestic violence stating that the fastest action to take is calling 911.

&uot;Tell police every small detail and be cooperative when they ask what may seem personal, but extremely necessary questions,&uot; said Bryant. &uot;Seek medical attention if needed, and most importantly; do not return to the residence.&uot;

Ferguson said everyone has the right to be safe from threats and beatings. He added, domestic violence is a crime that quietly poisons our families and society behind the closed doors of our homes. He also noted that he and his staff continue to attack the &uot;cowardly&uot; crime on all fronts to ensure the women and children of Suffolk can live their lives free from terror and abuse.

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&uot;You, however, must take that first step to protect yourself from abuse,&uot; Ferguson added. &uot;Once you recognize that it is not your fault and it is possible to change your situation, seek the help you need to correct your situation and improve the quality of your life. You are not alone. You are not to blame, you do not deserve to be abused and, there is help available to those involved in relationships where they are subjected to domestic violence.&uot;

Val Livingston, director of the Genieve Shelter for battered and abused women, said there are several steps a person can take in planning for their protection.

She suggested that money and car keys should be hidden away along with important documents like marriage licenses, birth certificates, social security cards, and school records.

&uot;Put them in a place where they can be reached quickly, and keep a bag or suitcase packed and hidden away for emergency exits of the home,&uot; said Livingston. &uot;Plan for a place to go, like the Genieve Shelter, in case of an emergency, and teach the children to run to a neighbor’s home to call police during an attack.&uot;

Livingston, Bryant and Ferguson all said they stand ready to help any victim of domestic violence. For more information on the Victim/Witness Program, contact Diane Bryant at 923-2232, or Allison Howard at 923-2231. Also, Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips &uot;Phil&uot; Ferguson and his staff regularly make appearances and presentations to schools, civic leagues, churches, fraternal organizations and other community groups on a wide range of topics including domestic violence. Any group or organization may schedule such a presentation, or obtain brochures highlighting the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and its programs, by contacting Diana Klink, Community Outreach coordinator, at 923-2238.

For details on the Genieve Shelter, call Val Livingston at 925-4365, or call the crisis hotline at 1-800-969-HOPE.