Domestic violence cases receive aid of victims’ advocate


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Domestic violence cases receive aid of victims’ advocate
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By SARAH LEMON
Mail Tribune

A victims’ advocate will soon work hand in hand with Medford police in an effort to encourage more reports of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Grace Enriquez also will bring fluency in both Spanish and English to the new position, a partnership between the Police Department and the non-profit social service agency Community Works. Enriquez was hired with nearly $43,000 in U.S. Department of Justice grant funds routed through the state. The renewable grant likely will keep Enriquez on the job for five years, said Gerry Sea, manager for Community Works’ Dunn House outreach program.

“It’s a great way to connect with victims of domestic violence before they get too involved in the system,” Sea said.

From an office in the Police Department’s criminal investigation division, Enriquez will work closely with police, following up with victims once an arrest has been made in their case, said Medford police Lt. Tim George.

Depending on the situation, Enriquez could be called into the field to assist, he said. Under terms of the grant, at least one-quarter of her work must be with adult sexual-assault victims.

“Our hope is that it increases reporting,” Sea said.

The department logged 257 reported sex crimes last year, 44 of those against adults, George said. Between 2004 and 2005, the city saw a 15 percent increase in reported domestic violence, 60 percent of that among Hispanic victims, George said.

The rise likely can be attributed both to victims’ greater willingness to report and an increase in the local Hispanic population, George said.

“That’s going to be another piece for us — to help us reach out to those folks,” George said.

“We hope that victims will have a better experience interacting with the police.”

Enriquez also will focus on breaking down barriers connected with female victims over the age of 65 and the mentally and physically disabled, traditionally under-served demographic groups, George said.

The advocacy position — filled just in time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month — likely will have more impact than a similar, four-year partnership between Community Works and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Sea said. That advocate, who went off the job in June, didn’t connect with as many victims as expected and was too removed for a collaboration with the sheriff’s patrol force, which was based in another location, Sea said.

Enriquez can be reached at the Medford Police Department at 774-2288.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail slemon@mailtribune.com.

Free training

Community Works victim services will provide free training sessions at Jackson County Fire District No. 5, 5811 S. Pacific Highway, Phoenix. To register, call 608-7005, Ext. 1001, or 779-2393, Ext. 217.

Topics will be:

* Anti-oppression, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Lunch and snacks will be provided.
* Dynamics of domestic and sexual violence, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Lunch and snacks will be provided.
* Advocacy skills and active listening, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 21. Lunch and snacks provided.

Conference

A conference aiming to build collaboration between community partners called “Ending Fragmentation: Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Alcohol & Drugs” is planned from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 27 at Rogue Valley Medical Center’s Smullin Health Education Center, 2825 E. Barnett Road, Medford. Cost is $30. Call 774-7828 to register.

Monthlong events

* Workshops will help survivors create shirts for the Clothesline Project, an international effort to “air the dirty laundry of domestic and sexual violence.” Call 779-4357 for information.
* A raffle to benefit Domestic Violence Awareness Month events and materials is being held by Community Works and the Jackson County Council Against Domestic & Sexual Violence. The $1 tickets can be purchased at Community Works, 900 E. Main St., Medford, and Jackson County Community Justice, 1101 W. Main St., Medford.
* The “Silent Witness” exhibit of life-sized, red silhouettes of eight Jackson County women murdered by a spouse, ex-spouse or partner will be displayed at various locations.
* A survivors event, “Celebrating the Courage and Healing of Survivors of Domestic Violence,” pampers participants with a spa day. Call 779-2393, Ext. 222, to sign up.

For more information about these activities, call 774-4988.

10-13-2006 06:33 AM

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