Hands of Hope offers workshop on community responses to domestic violence

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

Hands of Hope Resource Center in Morrison and Todd counties will offer a free workshop Tuesday, Aug. 21, to help critical personnel with understanding victims of domestic violence.

“So many times the victims fall through the cracks. Their wishes, their needs are not being heard by the police, the hospital, the prosecuting attorneys or the judges,” said Julie Kapsch, assistant director of Hands of Hope and the Violence Prevention coordinator. “We want to help people understand where the victim is coming from, what they want to happen.”

The Violence Prevention Initiative is made up of social workers, medical staff, a judge, attorneys and victims. Its mission is to increase awareness and prevention partner violence by nurturing loving, secure, trusting and healthy relationships built upon equality, open communication and respect.

The workshop is being sponsored by the Violence Prevention Initiative of Morrison County in partnership with Hands of Hope Resource Center and St. Gabriel’s Hospital. The Violence Prevention Council was formed through a Mission and Ministry Fund from Catholic Health Initiatives, the parent organization of St. Gabriel’s Hospital.

The upcoming workshop is four hours long and will educate the community on its response to partner violence. The topics to be discussed will include: understanding the victims of domestic violence; community and justice system’s response to domestic violence and domestic violence and chemical dependency issues.

Local systems directly involved in partner violence include the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office and local police, medical staff at the nearby hospitals, attorneys and judges. Hands of Hope would like each person who takes care of victims of violence to be aware of how they respond to the victim and the dynamics of domestic violence.

“Both sides of the issue need to understand the other side’s job,” said Kapsch. “The police need to catch the perpetrator, the attorneys need to prosecute, the judges need to sentence. All that and many times the victim’s needs and wants are ignored. Their story is missed.”

The workshop will help show how easily the system can take control away from the victim, the same way the perpetrator did.

Both Sandra van den Bosse and Connie Nelson will speak at each of the sessions.

Van den Bosse once monitored human rights abuses and supported dialogue between the Serbs and the Albanians in the former Yugoslavia. In England, she has worked for Amnesty International, designing human rights awareness campaigns and co-authored articles on human rights abuses in Kosovo. In the Philippines, she helped former street children organize themselves and use their experiences to help other children still on the streets.

Van den Bosse will have stories to tell about the men’s perspective on domestic violence.

“The police and others need to keep the victims’ safety central, yet take into consideration what the victim needs,” said van der Bosse. “The justice system needs to better respond and to coordinate their responses to better fit the needs of the victim.”

Nelson lives in Todd County and has spoken during a past Little Falls “Take Back the Night” event. She is a survivor of domestic violence that included stalking, assault and an international kidnapping incident. She will speak about her ordeal.

The workshop session will be held twice, one in the morning from 8 a.m. to noon or in the afternoon from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Both sessions will be held in Morrison County Government Center’s Meeting Room 1. Preregistration is required by Thursday. Call Kapsch at (320) 632-1657 or e-mail her at [email protected]