On Thursday, October 25th, the Redfield Crisis Center will hold their annual candle light walk in honor of those who have suffered from domestic violence for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Those who wish to take part in the walk are asked to gather at the Redfield Carnegie Library at 5p.m. The walk will end at the Redfield Crisis Center. In 2017, the Redfield Crisis Center handled two sexual assault cases, one stalking case, two elder abuse cases and 36 domestic abuse cases. Two of the domestic abuse cases were men. The center sheltered 14 adults and 17 children for a total of 789 ‘bed’ days. They also answered 666 calls. It can easily be seen that domestic abuse cases far outnumber many other types of abuse in the area. According to statistics gathered by the Crisis Center, an average of 20 people per minute experience intimate partner physical violence (domestic abuse) in the United States. On average, women who have been in domestic abuse situations will return to their partner at least eight times before making the decision to leave permanently. “How long they stay [at the
Redfield Crisis Center] depends on each individual situation,” said Rural Advocate, Penny Ihnen. “We go slow, because we know that [returning to their abuser] is probably going to happen. First of all, they need time to be away from that abuse. So we give them several days to just kind of chill out. We don’t expect anything of them except to fill out the intake form. They are usually in a daze…[later] we start talking to them about what they are thinking. If they don’t want to go back, then we start talking about housing. We have some assistance that is available to help with their first month’s rent or whatever that place expects when you first move in. If they have children, we get them to social services to apply for programs for children like WIC and food stamps. We have our rules, obviously, but by giving them the opportunity to make their own choices they feel they have power that they didn’t have before.”
Even though the Redfield Crisis Center sees many victims return to their abusers before making a permanent choice, they do not give up on victims and are always ready to accept them back. They have many success stories to share of victims who have left their abusers and are now leading full and healthy lives. Ihnen shared one of these success stories. “This woman had just given birth to a little baby and I think the baby might have been a few weeks old. She had a little two and a half year old boy and the daddy came home drunk one night and she was nursing the baby,” said Ihnen. “He grabbed the mom and slammed her against a wall and she literally had to hold that baby right next to her to keep the baby from getting hurt because he had her by the arms. He was so drunk that she was able to kind of sidestep him and he slipped and landed on their bed and fell into a drunken stupor. She had the baby, grabbed the diaper bag, grabbed the two year old boy out of his bed — he was sleeping — jumped into their pickup, called 911 and law enforcement came and arrested him. Law enforcement called us and she sat in a parking lot and waited for us to come. So we came — this was in the middle of the night.” Ihnen said that she went to the Good Samaritan Center and got clothes and personal care items for the three of them. After staying at the Crisis Center for some time, workers were able to help her obtain a job and stand on her own feet.
“I don’t remember how many days or weeks it was, but the longer she was away from him, the more she realized what she had really been living under,” said Ihnen. “A lot of times these perpetrators that victimize victims, there is a brainwashing that takes place. You can ask most all domestic victims and they will say that when they started out in their relationship it was ‘a really nice guy.’ They will start out by saying their relationship was wonderful. But in our trainings we learned that abuse starts out slow with little things here and there and then it escalates to ‘you’re not worth anything’ and ‘you know that I could get the kids from you because I could say that you are crazy.’ That brainwashing and constant putting-down and those constant threats is what makes them feel like they can’t stand on their own. But this gal was able to get out on her own and she got a job and good daycare for the kids and we got her on programs for the kids and now she is remarried and she just had their first child.”
The Redfield Crisis center works with victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, elder abuse and stalking. They service Hand, Faulk, and Spink Counties and are legal advocates for victims. They not only go to court with victims and help pay for legal fees, but also aid victims with food and gas, obtaining jobs, attending appointments, finding places to live (if necessary) and providing shelter. They are funded by grants that are written every year, marriage/divorce fees from counties they serve, county and city funds and donations from churches, civic groups and individuals. Family Crisis Center board members include Sheri Zens, Barb Baus, Adam Hansen, Brent Osborn, Father Tom Anderson, Glen Jackson, Isaac Appel, Karen Harr, Lynn Munce Flint, Robbi Siegling and Carol Esser. Janelle Fortin is the Redfield Crisis Center’s new director and Penny Ihnen is the center’s Rural Advocate. To donate to the center, checks can be sent to Redfield Crisis
Center, P.O. box 347 Redfield SD 57469. The center is on call 24/7 and can be contacted at (605) 472-0508.