Women’s advocacy program seeks space at Lincoln County courthouse

IVANHOE — The executive director of the Women’s Rural Advocacy Program, Inc. (WRAP) will be making a request for office space at the Lincoln County courthouse during today’s board of commissioners meeting.

Becci tenBensel’s request is two-fold.

“First, the office space within Southwest Health and Human Services in the Lincoln County courthouse one time per week, preferably Thursdays would provide a physical location for the WRAP Advocate to meet with victims experiencing domestic violence,” tenBensel said.

Secondly, she said, approval of placing informational tables in the Lincoln County courthouse that would showcase the statewide or national events, the WRAP agency and services offered, as well as other local agencies and resources available to Lincoln County residents.

“By partnering with Southwest Health and Human Services in Lincoln County and having a physical space that the WRAP program coordinator can utilize at least once a week will minimize some of the barriers shared by Lincoln County residents,” tenBensel said. “It will also make it easier for community partners coming in contact with survivors of domestic abuse, such as law enforcement officers, social workers, doctors and nurses and faith-based resources referrals to WRAP.”

Up until now, Lincoln County has been serviced through the WRAP-based in Lyon County. However, due to additional funding, WRAP is looking to find a base of operations in Lincoln County, tenBensel said.

There are two specific time frames WRAP has in mind, tenBensel said. They are as follows: March 27 and 28 during Statewide Day to End Domestic Violence and April 9-13 for the National Crime Victim Rights Week.

tenBensel explained that WRAP, in partnership with New Horizon’s Crisis Center of Murray County and the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, will participate in a statewide day of action, “We Believe: Minnesotans Against Domestic Violence.”

“As thousands share their stories with the #MeToo movement, programs working to end domestic violence across the state encourage community members and elected officials attention to an issue that affects one in three American women in her lifetime,” tenBensel said.

In reference to National Crime Victim Rights Week, the National Center for Victims of Crime is once again partnering with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs and Office for Victims of Crime to present the 2018 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW).

NCVRW is April 8-14, as well as other awareness activities throughout the year.

“When we build relationships across disciplines and form strategic partnerships, we move toward a future in which every victim can disclose their victimization to someone they trust,” tenBensel said. “Theses collaborations also ensure that victims are connected to accessible, trauma-informed, research-based, culturally competent service.

“We will continue to increase outreach to victims who are underserved and will work with service providers in these communities to break down barriers for victims,” tenBensel said. “We know that victims are much more likely to receive the services and support they need when communities are working together and are invested in their recovery and well-being.”

tenBensel intends to include a list of 24 Minnesotans who are known to have lost their lives in 2017 as a result of domestic violence. Most of them lived in the Twin Cities area, but not all of them.

WRAP’s mission is to “provide safety, advocacy and assistance for those victims of domestic violence in southwest Minnesota as well as community awareness through prevention and education.

WRAP promotes social change through equality and an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.”

tenBensel also plans to share the history of WRAP and the services it provides including 24-hour crisis line, safe housing, emergency transportation, legal and court advocacy, safety planning, information and referrals, support groups, community education, systems coordination and referral and resources for those of color.

WRAP is supported and recognized by the state of Minnesota Office of Justice Programs as the designated domestic abuse program to serve victims of domestic abuse in Lincoln, Lyon, Redwood and Yellow Medicine counties funding sources that have or currently support WRAP include United Way of Southwest Minnesota, Southwest Initiative Foundation, Violence Awareness Foundation, Lyon/Lincoln Cooperative Round-up Grant, ADA Community Grant and many other organizations and individuals in the four-county services area.