By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Morrison County will hold its 20th annual “Take Back the Night” event Thursday, May 16. The event is sponsored by Hands of Hope Resource Center in Little Falls, a local program that dedicates itself to supporting victims of crime.
Frank Weber, the scheduled speaker for the event, is the clinical director of CORE Professional Services, P.A. He is a licensed psychologist and a professor of psychology and sociology who has developed treatment programs and provides services that address sexual issues with both men and women, juveniles and adults, in 52 Minnesota counties.
CORE is the largest program in Minnesota that treats sexual offenders. It’s a private organization committed to helping individuals, families and communities address difficult issues in a productive manner. It specializes in addressing the problems abuse creates for families and communities and provides preventative, educational and clinical services to reduce these problems.
CORE looks at the aspects of the offender’s life and finds what is missing. Weber said most people have attachments to those they love; they have commitments to different areas of their lives; they are involved with school, work or family and that involvement is important to them; or they have strong spiritual or moral values. Those aspects keep most people from being deviants.
“CORE tries to find what’s missing in an offender’s life and points them in the right direction,” he said.
The CORE program takes a minimum of 18 months of weekly visits and then another year of after-treatment visits.
“So many of the people I see have been living unhealthy lives for a long time,” he said. “It takes a long time to turn them around.”
Weber also said many of the offenders have been victims of abuse themselves, either by a family member or a bully in school.
“When children are bullied or abused they cannot relate to others well. When they get older, they look for victims,” he said.
During the “Take Back the Night” event, Weber will speak about the progress made in reducing sexual offenses.
“Teen pregnancy is the lowest it has ever been and abortions have dropped 52 percent in the past 20 years,” he said. “People are making better choices.”
While there is still plenty of work to do, Weber said assaults in general are down, having peaked in 1995.
“Take Back the Night” is a worldwide event which helps people become aware of the violence against men, women and children.
The evening in Little Falls begins at 5:30 p.m. in Maple Island Park. Various displays can be seen representing abused children, sexual assaults, domestic violence and general crime victims in Morrison County.
Weber will speak at 6 p.m. During the evening, crafts and fingerprinting will be available for children.
Following the speaker, there will be an approximate 12-block march to end the “Take Back the Night” event.
Karla Montag, the sexual assault coordinator at Hands of Hope, said from Oct. 1, 2011 – Sept. 30, 2012, Hands of Hope assisted 330 domestic violence victims, 98 sexual assault victims and 349 abused children. There were also 193 victims of general crime who Hands of Hope helped.
“These numbers represent just the people we had contact with,” said Montag. “There are many more out there who did not use our services.”
Hands of Hope workers are advocates for victims. They go to court with the victims or represent them. They help fill out harassment or restraining orders or orders for protection. The advocates assist with finding the victims a safe place to stay or accompany them to law enforcement or the hospital. The hotline is manned 24 hours a day.
To contact Hands of Hope, call (320) 632-4878. To contact CORE, call the Sartell office at (320) 202-1400 or the Brainerd office at (218) 829-7140.