Healing hearts one family at a time

Abuse against women, men and children is a widespread problem which occurs within every possible social, economic, racial, religious and age class. Battering often begins in the dating relationship. What appears to be harmless behavior may be identified as the early warning signs of future abuse. Healing Hearts & Families is excited about completing their first year providing Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault services to eight counties in Central Nebraska. The area they cover includes the counties of Blaine, Custer, Garfield, Greeley, Loup, Sherman, Valley and Wheeler. Healing Hearts & Families would like to invite the community to their ribbon cutting and business after hours July 12, 2011, at 5 p.m. at 724 South D Street to help them celebrate the completion of their first year of services. This event will also be used to help kick-off the fund raiser, “Five for the Fight”, which will take place during Crazy Days. This is how the “Five for the Fight” works. An individual will be able to purchase a $5 card which will be redeemable Aug. 1-6, 2011, at the place where it was purchased. The following businesses have joined in the fight against Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault through this fund raiser: A Kneaded Touch, Ache and Pain, Arrow Seed, Bonfire Grill, Broken Bow Floral, Chapins, City Café, Grocery Kart, Hogan’s, Huckleberry’s Hideout, My Kloset/Kids Kloset, Pamida, Pizza Hut, Prairie Grounds Café & Gifts, Rest Assured, Shirts, Signs, Mugs and More and the Smoke Shack. “No one deserves to be treated without dignity and respect,” says SueEllen Koepke, Executive Director of Healing Hearts & Families. “That is why we are here to help them break the cycle of domestic violence.” Koepke stated that she is thrilled with the response from the businesses and the continued support the program receives from the community which helps provide some of the little extras not covered by grants to the survivors and families of domestic violence. Healing Hearts & Families also works to help make the community aware of how to recognize a potential abuser. Some of the questions an individual may want to ask themselves would be the following: * Is a person being physically or verbally abused at home? * Do they lose their temper frequently and more easily than seems necessary? * Do they commit acts of violence against objects, animals or other things? * Do they expect you to spend all your time with them or constantly inform them of your whereabouts? * Do they follow you – are they always watching you to see where you are, what you are doing, who you are talking to? * Have they ever slapped you, pulled your hair, twisted your wrist, arm or fingers, jabbed you in the ribs, pushed or shoved you, hit or knocked you around? If you feel a twinge of uneasiness don’t ignore that feeling as physical abuse during courtship is usually a guarantee of further abuse during marriage. If you find yourself in a situation like this Healing Hearts & Families is here to help you process your options as a first step in regaining your self-sufficiency and safety while continuing on a path free of violence. One family that Healing Hearts & Families began working with was referred to our office from the local Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services agency. As part of her case plan to be reunited with her children, this mom was to attend domestic violence support group. She attended group every week, and when she was to have a team meeting with those involved in her case she was very nervous. The client shared with the advocate facilitating group that there had been talk of her parental rights being terminated, and asked the advocate if she would be able to support her during her upcoming team meeting. The advocate explained that she could attend the team meeting with her and help support what information the survivor wanted to share or just empower her to ask questions. Koepke says there has been an extreme change in this survivor. This individual had previously had her rights terminated for other children as a result of being in an abusive relationship. The abuser did not allow her to do what she needed to do to get her children back. The survivor has been empowered by the attendees at group and the advocate, and is looking at reunification with her children. Through this process she has been able to leave her abusive relationship and has gained strength in standing up for what she is desirous of happening in her life. Healing Hearts & Families’ mission is to work collaboratively with others in our communities toward a world without domestic and sexual violence. Healing Hearts & Families is there 24/7 when things go wrong, but the program also provides educational programs to schools, communities and professional organizations within the eight counties in an attempt to bring about an end to Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault. Healing Hearts & Families is located at 724 South D Street. The office phone is 308-872-2420 and the crisis line is 308-872-5988 or 800-942-4040.