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Wild Iris seeks to educate public about abuse

March 29, 2012

Presenting solutions to the escalating pervasiveness of sexual abuse and domestic violence, Wild Iris Associate Director Michelle Pettit (l) and Director of Program Susi Bains gear up for a March workshop and an April training. Photo by Marilyn Blake Philip

Incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault are on the rise and their tidal wave effects hit not only abused victims, but also the perpetrators, their families and communities, and society as a whole.
In response to these escalating social maladies’ associated costs – emotional, physical, psychological and even financial – Wild Iris will be holding a workshop and certified crisis counselor training in coming days to educate the community.
“In the Eastern Sierras, we feel safe in our communities,” said Wild Iris Associate Director Michelle Pettit, however, anyone can be a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault – anyone can be a perpetrator – regardless of age, sex, race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, disability status, education and profession. It happens in every setting, whether rural or urban, rich or poor.
Wild Iris will hold “Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: Issues, Attitudes and Assistance,” a free workshop, from 9 a.m.-noon this Saturday, March 31, at 386 W. Line St.
The three-hour workshop is tailored to two audiences: people who want to know more about the dynamics of domes tic violence and sexual assault and those interested in becoming a certified domestic violence and sexual assault crisis counselor.
The workshop will help people understand more about:
• causes of domestic violence and sexual abuse
• warning signs and symptoms
• trauma and damage to victims and their children
• how to support victims; dynamics of victim blaming
• personal experiences, past and present
• why victims keep going back
• options and opportunities for assistance
Sexual assault and domestic violence breed cultures “of shame, victim-blaming, fear, embarrassment, misunderstanding and confusion,” said Pettit, explaining why it is so difficult to even begin to break the cycle by reporting the abuse and taking the first steps toward healing.
Call Wild Iris at (760) 873-6601 to reserve a seat at the workshop, where Wild Iris staff will collaborate to present the workshop and training, each supplying their area of expertise. This workshop is mandatory for the crisis counselor training.
Wild Iris will offer its certified crisis counselor training on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 a.m.-noon, from April 3 through May 29. The 66-hour training is “for people (who will be) working with victims in a professional or volunteer capacity,” explained Pettit.
According to the course description, the training “will cover the dynamics of domestic violence and sexual assault, and will teach valuable skills including, crisis intervention, peer counseling and safety planning to provide high quality and comprehensive support services to victims in Inyo and Mono counties.”
The training is free but registration is required. Call Wild Iris or print out an online registration form. (Although the certification earned at this training meets California state-mandated requirements, each agency has its own criteria for crisis counselors and volunteers.)
Once certified, Wild Iris volunteers can man the 24-hour hotline and/or provide help in the following areas:
• court accompaniment
• medical and legal advocacy
• outreach services
• community education
• donation sorting
• transportation
• clerical work
Wild Iris counselors uphold the agency’s commitment “to promoting, providing and sustaining programs of education and prevention, crisis intervention, advocacy and support for those affected by domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault,” as stated on its website. Its “vision is for non-violent relationships based on dignity, respect, compassion, and equality.”
Offices in Bishop, Mammoth, Lone Pine and Coleville/Walker serve all of these populations with complete confidentiality and at no charge.
Wild Iris counselors provide one-on-one crisis counseling and assistance to sexual abuse and domestic violence victims and their children in the following areas:
• emergency shelter, food and clothing
• safety planning in dangerous situation
• obtaining restraining orders
• advocacy and accompaniment in legal, medical and other situations
• relocation and housing establishment;
• youth violence prevention
Wild Iris works with law enforcement, schools, hospitals, social services, mental health, child protective services, victim witnesses and so on.
For additional information and/or help with domestic violence and/or sexual abuse issues, please call or visit the Wild Iris office or website or call the 24-hour hotline at (877) 873-7384.

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