Aware of the alarming statistics regarding domestic violence in Kentucky, Maysville Community and Technical College ITRAIN nursing students partnered with the local Womens Crisis Center to provide community support to the centers residents. The focus providing routine activities for the centers children.
The National Census of Domestic Violence Services polls domestic violence service providers annually and compiles a twenty-four hour snap-shot of the services offered. A one-day profile of Kentucky for 2008 included: service to 1,315 victims of domestic violence at 14 shelters across the state, response to 290 hot line calls (crisis intervention and safety planning), and 159 unmet requests for service, including 107 who were seeking emergency shelter or transitional housing. The numbers are daunting, and it is estimated that domestic violence is under-reported by 50%.
Across the United States, 3.3 million children are at risk of witnessing domestic violence each year. Children who witness violence are at increased risk for aggressive behavior, disobedience, fear, withdrawal, depression, low self-esteem, poor school performance, adult depression and likelihood of violence in adult relationships. Some children are resilient and some are not (see Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2009).
Suggested Interventions from National Leaders in Domestic Violence Research
Writing for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Schechter and Edelson (1999) suggest that in addition to child protective services, domestic violence agencies, and juvenile courts, neighborhood residents should provide leadership to bring communities together to provide for the safety, well-being and stability of children and families experiencing domestic violence. Service providers need to learn about and build upon community strengths, which is exactly what the local women's crisis shelter does.
Local Shelter Program and the MCTC ITRAIN Students
The Womens Crisis Center shelters provide safe, home-like settings that are supportive and empowering of abused women and their children. One component of shelter programming involves educational, support group and artistic expression programs that involve community members. On October 23, 2011, ITRAIN students gave shelter residents a Halloween party that involved traditional games such as pumpkin painting, bobbing for apples and mummy races. Students sought donations from Dominos, R Farms pumpkin patch, and community residents, such as Debbie Bray who provided baked goods for the affair. ITRAIN student Krista Wheeler said, The adults attending the party had as much fun as the children. The participation was phenomenal. Her colleague, Michelle Muse, commented, Quite simply, this is an experience that I will never forget.
Routine activities help provide stability during transitional periods and send a message to victims that the community cares. Community contributions and involvement speaks volumes. Melissa Redmond and Jessica Lainhart, also from ITRAIN, brought their children to the party. Ms. Redmond commented, "I feel that the experience opened my daughter's eyes to how wonderful volunteering can be. The families were very grateful and appreciated the Halloween party."
ITRAIN student leadership involved: Krista Wheeler, Melissa Redmond, Jessica Lainhart, Angie Marcum and Michelle Muse. ITRAIN is a Department of Labor-funded initiative that allows dislocated, unemployed and incumbent workers an alternate path to obtain a Registered Nursing Associates degree by attending a nights and weekends program. Students will graduate with a Registered Nursing degree in May 2012.
Additional information about the ITRAIN Program is available by contacting Deborah Nolder, Chair, Health Sciences Division at MCTC or Deborah Williamson, ITRAIN Project Director (606) 759-7141.