Time is of the essence when dealing with domestic violence

By Karine Rogers, coordinator of the START program

A woman in crisis because of abuse and violence usually needs many types of help from multiple services, and may have no idea what services are available.

Trying to figure out how to get support from many potential services can be confusing, overwhelming and time consuming. A critically important piece of a woman’s safety planning involves being able to access information and resources quickly and seamlessly. When she comes to Support Team for Abuse Response Today (START) at YWCA Peterborough Haliburton, she can learn about all the help available and get help from several sources immediately.

START is a domestic abuse service hub, where many services come together under one roof to provide collaborative service to the people who need it. We have found it makes a real difference to a woman seeking help that she can come to a safe place that is a “one stop shop.”

Here she can talk with one staff person to learn about the breadth of service options and gain assistance in determining her service needs and priorities. We can then immediately introduce her to other service providers she would like to access. START includes representatives from across many sectors, including justice, healthcare, violence against women, child welfare, and community and social services. Our staff works together to ensure seamless services for women seeking our resources.

Because time is often of the essence, seamless and well-coordinated service is a critical piece of safety planning. This is especially important given how rapidly high-risk situations can escalate. Additionally, women may need to make big decisions immediately, and on-the-spot legal advice can be critical to making decisions about how to best protect their and their children’s safety. At START, women can call Legal Aid Ontario and receive immediate telephone summary legal advice regarding their situation. This is available to women regardless of their income level or immigration status.

Our dearest wish is that no woman would ever need our services. But as long as there are women who do, we will continue to work collaboratively to provide the highest quality service possible.

Below are some links to similar initiatives:

Durham: http://durhamdriven.com/

Peel: http://www.cfspd.com/services.html

Waterloo: http://fvpwaterloo.ca/en/

York: http://yrccs.ca/

Family Justice Centre Alliance (US) http://www.familyjusticecenter.com/

Karine Rogers is Coordinator of the START program. START is open every Monday (except statutory holidays) from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the YWCA, 216 Simcoe St, Peterborough. For more information: 705.743.3526; www.ywcapeterborough.org/START

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) joined forces with the START program at the beginning of 2013. It helps START ensure that calls from domestic violence victims who come into START seeking legal advice receive immediate support and services from LAO’s toll-free line.
Between April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013, LAO received 9,482 applications with domestic violence reported in the case. Of these applications, 7,880 certificates were issued.