Domestic violence groups reach out to rural areas

Domestic violence affects people of every age, race and gender, but a grant awarded to one local group will make it easier for victims of abuse in Erie County to get the services they need. 

Safe Journey is an outreach organization that helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse.  A federal grant for nearly $750,000 will help improve initiatives to serve children affected by abuse, as well as programs to encourage men and boys help end the cycle of abuse. 

"What this does is it allows us as a community, as a county, to expand intervention services for domestic violence and sexual assault,  particularly domestic violence and sexual assault that's been witnessed by children to a much broader base of people throughout the county," says Dr. Melanie Hetzel-Riggin, Research Coordinator at Susan Hirt Hagen CORE. 

Organizations such as SafeNet, the YMCA of Corry and the Crime Victim's Center have teamed up with Safe Journey to develop a plan to help serve rural Erie County, where services are scarce. 

Corry's Police Chief, Richard Shopene, is also the co-chair for the Rural Domestic Violence Task Force.  He sees first-hand how domestic violence affects families in the Corry area.

Typically, women are seen as the face of domestic violence and abuse issues but one of the things that this grant is going to help fund is the opportunity to educate men and boys to get more involved in breaking the cycle.  Shopene agrees, saying, "It's not just a female issue, it's a community issue.  And community means everybody."

The United Way is also donating a vehicle that will be used as a mobile counseling office. All of these efforts are designed to help curb domestic violence throughout the county.  Anyone who would like to reach out to Safe Journey can contact 814-438-2675.

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