Hope Crisis Center in Fairbury has been active throughout October, raising awareness about an issue that affects many people, though few discuss it: domestic violence.
Carmen Hinman, executive director of Hope Crisis Center, explained that this issue goes far beyond the month of October, and that people need to be aware that it can happen any time.
“I do think that no matter how prevalent it is, it’s still one of those things that unless you’re immediately affected by it, or your family, or loved ones, or friends, people still kind of turn a blind eye to it,” said Hinman. “It’s something that people don’t want to accept or admit is happening. We know from being a program that provides services to help victims that it is prevalent in our communities, in our neighborhoods, in our families and in our churches. So, we, as a program, we have started to do more to look at this as a year-long issue, instead of a set month.”
Hinman hopes that with their efforts to raise awareness, people will begin to recognize signs of domestic violence and take action to prevent it from worsening. Earlier this month, the Spanish Club at Fairbury High School volunteered to post yard signs around Fairbury to drive this issue home. This is one of several events and campaigns that Hope Crisis Center focuses on to help show people that domestic violence can happen anywhere and anytime.
(Photos Contributed By Fairbury Spanish Club, Hope Crisis Center)
Hinman explained that domestic violence can take a number of forms. She emphasized that it is not only physical abuse.
“Typically people always think that it’s physical, and most definitely domestic violence can be physical,” Hinman said. “But it’s so much more than that. We have victims who tell us, ‘Well, he doesn’t hit me,” or “He doesn’t come after me.’ Again, it’s more than that. It can be financial; it can be degrading, like name calling; it can be withholding different things that make a person function. With domestic violence, there’s a hole array of things that fall under that.”
Verbal abuse, Hinman noted, can be more harmful than physical abuse sometimes because it can stay with a person throughout their life.
“None of it is acceptable,” said Hinman. “I think that something we want to stress is that it doesn’t matter if he or she is not physically beating you. If there’s lot of other things going on, like verbal abuse, it’s still abuse, and that’s not okay. It’s not acceptable. That’s not a healthy relationship.”
With technology continuing to advance, Hinman explained that abusers can harness it to do more damage to their victims, whether its through degrading them on social media or even constantly texting them. Hinman believes that it is a sign of control. She emphasized that Hope Crisis Center is working with the schools to educate teens about healthy relationships.
She explained that on average, Hope Crisis Center, which operates in seven counties, there are over 3,000 crisis-line calls a year. They help roughly 50 adults with their shelter program every year, and along with that, roughly 50 to 75 children, though it varies based on the size of the families.
Stuff The Van was their most recent event, on Saturday, which gave people a chance to fill a van with supplies that will be used to support victims of domestic violence. This annual event, which takes place at Wal-Mart in Fairbury, helps Hope Crisis Center to stock up on items that are used throughout the year. However, if people were not able to attend on Saturday, they can always bring donations to their offices in downtown Fairbury.
On Friday Nov. 4, Hope Crisis Center will host it’s famous dueling pianos event at the Elk’s Lodge. Social hour starts at 7 p.m., and there will be a silent auction ongoing throughout the night. All proceeds raised during the event will be used to help victims of domestic violence.
Hinman encourages people to reach out to Hope Crisis Center if ever there is a situation where they believe domestic violence is occurring. She emphasized that they will work to help people to take the steps needed to improve the situation.
“We provide quite a broad array of services to individuals in need,” Hinman said. “We work hard to meet people where they’re at, and then determine what their need is and go from there. Everybody is different, but the number one thing I would say is that people aren’t alone.
“Unfortunately,” Hinman continued, “it happens to others, and I think if you are in a situation like this, you tend to feel very alone, and you may blame yourself. So, I would say it’s important to reach out. That’s what we’re here for. That’s solely our purpose; to help people to get through this and to help them understand that they don’t deserve to, day after day, living with violence and fear and all of those things that go with it. Our door is always open. we’re not here to judge; we’re here to help.”