Who to Ask for Help, and How: Our Victim Advocacy Services
When Rhiannon Whalen-Harris began her career at OneEighty in 2012, her role was that of a Community Educator. Fast forward to 2022, and you’ll find that Rhiannon’s current title is as long as the list of responsibilities she now oversees. New on her plate is the oversight of the shelter program as well as other services which help victims move past their abuse.
As the Director of Community, Prevention, and Victim Services, Rhiannon is most proud of the incredible, committed team they have built internally as well as the collaborative efforts forged within the community. As the designated Rape Crisis Center for both Wayne and Holmes Counties, OneEighty’s staff is able to work in tandem with other entities. Together they touch the lives of those experiencing domestic violence and/or sexual assault and provide victims with access to a streamlined response to their crisis.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
“October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” Rhiannon said. “We want our community to be aware of the ugly truth about the victimization of both women and men. This problem impacts more than 25% of the people living among us. One out of every 3 women will be impacted by either domestic violence or intimate-partner violence as well as one out of 4 men. Whether you know it or not, it doesn’t just happen to ‘other people.’ It is happening to someone you know.”
Rhiannon went on to explain that when people think about domestic violence, they think of a legal husband and wife relationship. Intimate-partner violence can occur in a much broader environment such as dating relationships.
Gayle Byrne is the Chairperson of the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Coalition of Wayne County, while Tina Zickefoose is her Holmes County counterpart. They work to provide a coordinated response to people in crisis by linking the appropriate law enforcement agencies, victim advocacy services, healthcare providers and children’s services when necessary.
“It is such a privilege to work with our victim services staff,” Rhiannon said. “They are all so passionate about helping people move through their crisis and on to a better life.”
What Can You Do?
As a community member, there are things you can do to help address this crisis. First, know the warning signs of an abusive situation. Control is at the core. If you know someone in a relationship that is overshadowed with jealously, isolation, or who is with someone who moves the relationship forward more quickly than normal, be vigilant. Does their significant other demand all their pass codes and consistently need to know their whereabouts?
You can become that ‘safe person’ for someone you suspect is living in fear. Find a safe, private place to dialogue with them and do it in a very direct way. Let them know that you are worried about their well-being and if they need help, you are there to help them find it.
“Most likely your outreach will have to be a repetitive process,” Rhiannon explained. “It usually takes several times for victims to move forward to seek help. If they know you care, you can help them access the professional resources available to them.”
OneEighty is unique in that the agency has the ability to address more than one type of behavioral health need under one roof. Substance abuse and domestic violence/sexual assault are both traumatizing paths that oftentimes overlap.
“We invite the community to wear the purple ribbon during the month of October. Let everyone know we won’t stand for this in our community,” Rhiannon said.
Available at OneEighty for Victims of Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault
- Toll-Free, 24-hour Crisis Hotline – 1-800-686-1122 / 330-263-1020
- Victim Advocacy Services – Free confidential connection to services, safety planning, and other victim assistance services
- Domestic Violence Shelter
- Hospital Advocacy
- Safe at Home program
- Intimate Partner & Domestic Violence booklet (Wayne County)
- Self-Help Legal Manual