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Domestic Violence Does Not Stop During Holidays

December 23, 2010

News Archive – AM 930 WFMD Online.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010    Email article | Print article | RSS
The holidays should be a wonderful time of year for children and grown-ups alike. It’s the time of the year to build positive memories with family and friends and rejoice in the spirit of the season. However, the season can hold a dark reality for many families. While the winter holidays are supposed to bring out the best in people, it can bring out the worst in abusers, with victims experiencing threats, verbal and emotional abuse, or physical violence. “Domestic violence is a problem all year round but around the holidays you will see an increase in the economic stress and kind of the holiday expectations focused on families. A lot of individuals feel like they have to maintain the myth of a happy family although that’s not what’s going on behind closed doors,” said Ashley Mancinelli, CEO Heartly House.

In relationships where there is domestic violence, children witness about three-quarters of the abusive incidents. About half the children in such families have themselves been abused. These incidents cause anxiety and distress during what is supposed to be one of the merriest times of the year for them. Instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, the children in these families may struggle with nightmares and flashbacks. The holiday gift they long for most is safety.

“We do our best to put our hot line out there to let individuals know that our services are there for them,” continued Mancinelli.

Heartly House, Inc., has been serving victims of domestic violence, rape/sexual assault, and child abuse for over 30 years. They also assist secondary victims such as family members, spouses, significant others, and sisters or brothers.

All services are confidential except in cases of reportable child abuse and with threats homicide or suicide. Heartly House services are voluntary.
Heartly House Services:

24-Hour Hotlineis available 7 days per week. They have a TTY line and provide interpreters when needed through the Language Line. The number is 301-662-8800; TTY: 301-662-1565.

Counseling Services include crisis appointments, ongoing counseling, and support groups. They generally offer three different groups on topics such as Breaking the Cycle for Domestic Violence Victims, Sexual Assault Support, and Adults Molested as Children. We create other groups as different needs arise.
Legal Servicesinclude an on-site attorney and Victim Advocates. The staff attorney offers direct representation for Protective and Peace Order hearings in District and Circuit Court. The staff attorney also provides representation for a limited number of family law cases, depending on financial eligibility. Victim Advocates provide support, accompaniment to civil and criminal hearings, safety planning, referrals, hospital accompaniments and information on courthouse protocol.

Emergency Shelter is available for victims of Domestic Violencewho are in IMMEDIATE DANGER. The shelter is handicap accessible. They have a Safe Pet Program, which will provide a confidential shelter for family pets while clients reside in our emergency shelter.
Referrals to other organizations in the community for resources such as the Frederick Rescue Mission, Way Station, Project 103, Cold Weather Shelter, Department of Social Services and Community Action Agency.

Abuser Intervention Program – Currently they offer two 26-session groups for men. “We have held groups for female abusers when the need arises. Because we have no funding for this service, a flat $20 fee per group is charged.”

Heartly House provides Medical Accompaniments for SAFE Exams at Frederick Memorial Hospital. This is a 24-hour service. Heartly House Advocates have received special training in handling sexual assault cases and will support rape/sexual assault victims throughout the SAFE exam process.

The Community Educator provides Outreach and Education for a large variety of groups and different size audiences such as schools, colleges, and universities; social clubs such as the Lions and Moose clubs; churches; professional agencies; and private organizations. Heartly House tailors each presentation to the needs of the organization and will present on topics such as Heartly House services, domestic violence, sexual assault, bullying prevention, elder abuse, etc. Presentations are geared toward the age and knowledge-base of the audience.

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