October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Katy Christian Ministries Monday dedicated a victim service and support center to serve those needing help.
Celina Wells, KCM Crisis Center director, said the victim service and support is a collaboration between KCM, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Harris County Sheriff’s office, Harris County Constable Pct. 5, Harris County Pct. 4, and TOMAGWA HealthCare Ministries.
“We were finding through research experience that creating soft rooms is beneficial to victims,” Wells said. “It’s easier for law enforcement and those doing exams.”
The center consists of two rooms at the Katy Christian Ministries headquarters, 3506 Porter Road. One is for law enforcement professionals to perform forensic interviews. The other is for medical professionals to perform exams on domestic abuse victims.
The need for law and medical professionals to treat domestic violence cases remains great. Wells said the need seems to be greater than before.
“COVID brought up the numbers because people were housed together,” Wells said. “They couldn’t leave their houses. Now that COVID is done, we are in a financial recession. People are losing their income, then it creates all this tension and results in family violence.”
TOMAGWA (an acronym for Tomball, Magnolia and Waller) provided the table and medical supplies.
“Our major connection is the medical part,” Timika Simmons, TOMAGWA HealthCare Ministries CEO, said, adding that TOMAGWA donated a similar set of supplies to another center earlier this year. “If there is ever a need for supplies, we’re a resource for that.”
Wells said the center has been over two years in the works.
“I know Susan Hastings (Wells’s predecessor as Crisis Center director) was a key person in getting into that conversation with Sgt. Klafka,” Wells said, adding that Sgt. John Klafka and Sgt. Tommy Smith, both with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, were active in the conversations. Both Klafka and Smith were at Monday’s dedication ceremony.
“They’ve been talking for years about the need to see clients in a more comfortable setting,” Wells said. Space constraints were an issue, but Wells said KCM Executive Director Deysi Crespo could get the center headquartered at the Porter Road facility.
Wells said those needing help in a domestic violence situation should call the domestic violence crisis hotline at 281-391-HELP (4357). For non-emergencies, call 281-391-4504.
Those dealing with a sexual abuse situation are asked to call the sexual abuse crisis hotline at 281-693-RAPE (7273). For non-emergencies, call 281-391-5262.
“We will assist anybody, even if they weren’t abused or assaulted yesterday,” Wells said. “We’re there to assist them.”
While the day-to-day work of addressing domestic violence cases continues, so also does efforts to bring public awareness to the problem. The KCM Silent Witness dinner, held every October, calls attention to those lost. The event includes a traveling exhibit of life-sized, red, free-standing wooden silhouettes, each of which represents a domestic violence victim from Harris, Fort Bend and Waller counties who was murdered by a partner or family member, and whose partner has been convicted.
That event is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 27 at Westland Baptist Church, 1407 West Grand Parkway South. Hastings will receive the Brittany Whalen Rumsey Award of Excellence for Outstanding Service at the event.
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