Local Domestic Violence Intervention seeks to help victims

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As month-long observances are becoming popular to educate communities, April is a month among many recognitions, including sexual assault; in 2016, there were 1,725 rapes reported to law enforcement in Nevada, according to the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.

But in Churchill County, representatives of Fallon’s Domestic Violence Intervention, Inc. are concerned that not many locals know about the center’s existence.

Although the agency receives reports, calls, and referrals from local law enforcement, they don’t get many direct calls from the victims. In a quarterly report by the agency, they received 400 domestic violence contacts during 2017—and assisted 391 of them in counseling sessions, including the crisis hotline, transportation, shelter, and food and clothing.

Executive Director Karen Moessner, who has been involved in the agency for 30 years, said 90 percent of county locals within the Interpersonal Sexual Assault Program identified themselves on a survey as a domestic violence/sexual abuse victim.

Based off the results from Churchill County’s quarterly report, Moessner is concerned if victims aren’t aware of what is recognized as sexual assault.

“Law enforcement contacts us with a crisis of any kind,” she said. “A lot of it happens in junior high and high school. Even though we’re informed by law enforcement, many still seem to be unaware of the programs we offer.”

DVI, Inc. is a non-profit community organization at 485 West B Street and offers support and needs to adults and children who are victimized by acts of domestic violence, without any fees. DVI receives its funding from the marriage licenses sold in Nevada, the City of Fallon, Churchill County, and the Nevada Office of the Attorney General. The agency also offers training workshops and presentations to the community.

“It’s trauma informed advocacy,” Moessner said. “Women don’t leave on a crisis — there’s so much.”

Under law enforcement terms in Nevada, sexual abuse also is under the definition of domestic violence, under NRS 33.018, including physical, emotional, and economic abuse as well. The definition of what determines sexual assault can be found in NRS 200.366.

According to the NCEDSV, domestic violence offenses in the state have increased each year since 2012; in DVI’s 2017 report for Churchill County, 388 women and 12 men were primary victims of domestic abuse in Churchill County. The majority of ages among women were between 30-44, followed by women aged 18-29.

The highest number of men as primary victims of domestic abuse in the county was 6, also in the age range of 30-44. Moessner said parents of victims often call in but would like to see victims call in after a crisis for immediate support.

The quarterly report for the county also lists a number of known cases in which law enforcement was contacted during the reporting quarter, which reached 114; there were 38 known arrests made during the quarter.

When a sexual assault occurs, the officer of the law enforcement is required to arrest the person suspected of committing the battery, if they determine the battery has been committed. They also are required to photograph at the first opportunity and obtain a signed medical release. If they are unable to arrest the suspect, the victim has the right to request the prosecutor file a criminal complaint against the person. If convicted, the person may be placed on probation, ordered to see a counselor, put in jail or is fined.

If the victim wants order for prosecution, the officer provides the victim an appointment with the clerk of the court for protection. Regardless of the outcome, officers are required to provide the victim a card with information about the nearest violence program, along with information about the incident arrest and orders for protection. This is when law enforcement also informs DVI to assist the victim.

If the victim presses charges and files an initial report to law enforcement, a victim-survivor can decide whether or not they would like to move forward with the investigation. However, the decision to press criminal charges is up to the state, based on law enforcement investigations including witness statements, photographs, reports from medical personnel, timeline of victim and defendant’s whereabouts, and other evidence.

Moving forward, Moessner and board members at DVI are hoping for community members to get involved at the agency with volunteering or launching a #MeToo movement in Fallon, which emerged internationally in Oct. 2017 after victims of sexual assault broke silence. Contact Moessner for more information at 423-1313 or dvidir@cccomm.net, at 485 West B Street, Suite 106 P.O. Box 2231.


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