Office to open in Hancock County to help domestic violence victims

Published: Feb. 9, 2015 at 11:19 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 10, 2015 at 10:54 AM CST
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HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - By creating a stronger presence in Hancock County, the Gulf Coast Women's Center For Non-Violence hopes more victims of domestic violence will realize they have a place to turn. Officials are in the process of trying to open a satellite office in Hancock County.

When it comes to domestic violence calls, police said often they end up having to respond to the same houses time and time again.

Chief Mike DeNardo of the Bay St. Louis Police Department said, "We have a lot of repeats. It's sad because a lot of times you get to court and the advocates talk to them. A lot of times it's like 'He's all I have or she's all I have.'"

To help break the cycle of domestic violence, the Gulf Coast Women's Center for Non-violence will open its first permanent office in Hancock County, a place where last year, officials said there were more than 260 domestic violence cases.

"First it will bring services more readily available to clients, to victims through crisis intervention, immediate access to information and referral," said Sandra Morrison, center director. "We won't be able to provide shelter because we don't have a shelter here. But we will also have a more permanent home to do counseling, case management. And counseling is both individual and group. It lets the community know we are here and we do have the services for you.

Because domestic violence doesn't discriminate, the Gulf Coast Women's Center For Non-Violence has a newly-created Hancock County advisory committee, which has members from all walks of life. Their mission is teach people how to reach out to those in abusive relationships.

"First of all, make ourselves aware of what the issues are and to educate the rest of our county members of what's going on and what do you say to someone who says, 'I'm in an abusive relationship,'" said Christina Richardson, who is the committee chairperson.

"I think it's one of those unspoken issues. We all know someone who has been abused and who has been in a violent relationship or some type of domestic violence. But it's so difficult to talk about. Often the victim doesn't want to talk about it. They're ashamed. They feel, they're to blame. Families are embarrassed," said Richardson.

The Gulf Coast Women's Center For Non-Violence is currently looking for a location for its Hancock County office. Officials said the long term goal is to run a shelter in Hancock County as they have done in Harrison and Jackson counties.

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