Posts tagged ‘calcasieu women’s shelter’

Men march against violence

The awareness-raising protest was part of Lake Charles’ Fourth of July parade.

A number of men joined the Sunday march in Lake Charles against domestic violence. BY KAREN E. WINK

About 120 men joined employees from the Calcasieu Women’s Shelter to march against domestic violence in this year’s Fourth of July parade.

The men walked the mile of the parade chanting, “Man up! Hands down! Stop domestic violence!” and holding signs made by children who live at the shelter.

They also passed out pamphlets that outlined facts about domestic abuse and the services available at the Calcasieu Women’s Shelter.

Anthony Chapman, a local minister, said he and his family took part in the march because he feels men should lead by example.

“We just want other men to see what we’re doing, and hopefully it’s something that will stay on their minds,” Chapman said.

To see a video about the event, CLICK HERE.

The idea came from Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach, who saw a news story about a group of men marching in Gloucester, Mass., said John Fontenot, president of the board of directors for the Calcasieu Women’s Shelter.

Fontenot said he hopes to create a united front by getting more men to speak out against violence.

Gerald Thomas, a detective with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office’s Domestic Violence Division, said it’s about admitting that there is a problem.

“As far as suspects, most of them are male, and I think it speaks volumes when men stand up and say it’s a problem and needs to be stopped,” Thomas said.

Thomas said that at times his department is inundated with cases not only because it is a serious problem, but also because more people are speaking out.

“That’s the biggest problem we find, the victim didn’t leave because they didn’t know there were people who could help,” Thomas said.

Yvonne Manning-Smith with the shelter said volunteers will set up information booths at local businesses in the coming months.

In 2009, Thomas estimated that the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office handled about 2,600 domestic abuse calls.

A 2009 study by the Violence Policy Center ranked Louisiana worst in violence against women. The study used FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data for the year 2007.

Nationally, the rate of women killed by men in the “single victim/single offender” category was 1.3 per 100,000. In cases where relationships could be determined, 91 percent of the victims knew their killers. Louisiana, with 57 women killed, had a rate of 2.53 per 100,000.

For information, call the Calcasieu Women’s Shelter at 337-436-4552.


July 5, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Parade marchers to rally against domestic violence


John Fontenot said it’s time for men to speak out against domestic violence, and he plans to start this weekend.

Fontenot, director of the Calcasieu Women’s Shelter, said that while marching in the Fourth of July parade, the men will chant, “Man up! Hands down! Stop domestic violence!”

“We can house about 35 women and children at the shelter, and we are almost always at capacity,” Fontenot said. The shelter aids more than 400 women and children each year, he said.

Parade participants will include officers with the Lake Charles Police Department and Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, local Boy Scouts and Rotary Club members.

To participate, call the Women’s Shelter at 436-4552 or show up at 5:30 p.m. at the corner of Ryan and Division streets.


July 2, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Men join stand against violence

*published Dec. 4, 2009

The Calcasieu Women’s Shelter and community officials on Monday made “A Call to Men” to stand up and speak out against domestic abuse.

Mayor Randy Roach, a member of a panel that included law enforcement officials, said men should speak out to those they suspect are abusers and those who make negative comments about their spouses.

He cited as an example a group of men in Gloucester, Mass., who pass out information on abuse to anyone willing to talk to them. They also make a point to speak out at work, he said.

“When I began working on how to improve children’s welfare, I got drawn into this,” Roach said. “It’s not just about education and health care. It’s about creating a stable situation for the parents so they provide the proper foundation. That takes the whole community.”

Avery (his name has been changed), 48, is a former abuser. He talked about the generational cycle he found himself in.

“I remember my father would beat my mother after accusing her of all kinds of things because he was jealous,” he said. “I always said I hated my mother’s bruises. But as soon as I became an adult, I was the accuser and trying to control everything. I was verbally abusive and just got worse.”

Avery talked about having a successful career and being active in the community, but being a completely different person at home.

“No one knew what was going on in my home,” he said. “I didn’t realize I needed help until she left and no apologies or flowers could get her back this time.”

Avery said that after he started seeing a psychiatrist he finally understood that there was a cycle he needed to break.

“Every man, my father and grandfather, how did we tell these women we loved them, and then turn around and punch and kick them,” he said. “I really had to understand that ‘No, that’s not just our personality.’ ”

Since getting help years ago, Avery said, he doesn’t keep in touch with some of his brothers because they are abusers who refuse to get help.

An especially low point for him, he said, was when his adult daughter ended up in an abusive relationship.

“It showed me that everything I did to my ex-girlfriend, our daughter saw,” he said.

Calcasieu Parish Detective Gerald Thomas talked about always making sure his fellow deputies understand that they have to be there for the victim, but that is only a small part of the equation.

“We can arrest half of the parish and we haven’t really done anything if the person does not acknowledge the problem,” he said.

Thomas said one of the biggest barriers is that the victim feels stuck.

“They think they deserved the abuse or beating or they can’t afford to live on their own, which is why the domestic abuse task force is so good. We bring everything together.”

The task force consists of law enforcement officials, prosecutors, legal advocates and the Calcasieu Women’s Shelter. Since Jan. 1, Thomas said, law enforcement agencies in Calcasieu Parish have handled 2,600 domestic abuse calls.

Calcasieu Assistant District Attorney Brent Hawkins said there needs to be a shift in focus.

“Too many times people ask, ‘Why is she with him? Why does she stay?’ when we need to be asking, ‘Why is he doing this?’ ” he said. “We have to support the victim.”

Hawkins said that in more than half of his cases, there is abuse in the victim’s and abuser’s family histories.

“My job is accountability and justice,” Hawkins said. “And part of that includes improving the victim’s quality of life.”


December 4, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Restraining orders forbid all contact

*published Oct. 25, 2009

When a victim of domestic abuse leaves her abuser, a restraining order can be filed to legally forbid the offender from contacting the victim in any way.

The Southwest Louisiana Law Center, a group of lawyers and advocates who help draft restraining orders for victims, accompany them to court hearings.

Alicia Hampton with the Southwest Louisiana Law center explained the process of getting a restraining order:

If police are called to a domestic dispute, they refer the victim to the law center or the Calcasieu Women’s Shelter, which has advocates to help with the paperwork. The forms, along with a police report, is taken to the Domestic Violence Division at the district courthouse.

A 20-day temporary restraining order is automatically filed. A court date is set within that period to request a full restraining order, which would be renewed every 18 months.

“The district attorney here takes restraining orders very seriously,” Hampton said.

She said collaboration on the domestic abuse task force has streamlined the process.

In Calcasieu Parish, the Sheriff’s Office Civil Division serves warrants. Spokeswoman Kim Myers said restraining orders are given priority status to get them served to the offender as soon as possible.

“The offender is told that he is not to contact her in any way or send a third party to relay a message,” Hampton said. “Deputies explain that the abuser can not harass, stalk or follow the victim.”

Hampton said in the restraining order, the victim can also request to stay in the home or keep a vehicle.

“If a person does violate the protective order, the victim should call the police each and every time to file a report, they also can file a rule for contempt against the abuser,” Hampton said. “There will be some people who won’t follow the restraining order.”

Hampton said even if the abuser leaves before police arrive, they should always file a report.

“If a neighbor saw the incident, ask them to file a witness statement,” Hampton said. “If the abuser is calling or texting, we have the victim bring the phone to court.”

Hampton said the task force consists of Calcasieu Parish law enforcement and advocates, but they are available to help victims in the surrounding parishes.

“Unfortunately, we know that in some rural areas, everyone knows each other and information may get out to the abuser,” Hampton said. “But we try to encourage the victim to follow through because we know how hard it is to take that stand.”

Hampton said women can call the law center during regular business hours and the women’s shelter has a 24-hour line.

Through October 2009, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office has filed 946 reports for domestic abuse, with 327 arrests.

Domestic abuse includes simple battery, aggravated battery, stalking, assaulting, harassing phone calls and violation of restraining orders.

For information, call the Calcasieu Women’s Shelter at 436-4552 or the Southwest Louisiana Law Center at 436-3308.


October 25, 2009 at 4:30 pm

State tops violence list (Part 1 of 2)

*published Sept. 25, 2009

La. has highest rate of women murdered by men

Louisiana is at the top of yet another bad list. The Violence Policy Center ranked the state No. 1 in the rate of women murdered by men.

The study used FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data for the year 2007, the most recent data available.

In that year, 1,865 U.S. women were killed by a single male offender. In cases where relationships could be determined, 91 percent of the victims knew their killers.

Many of the crimes were not related to any other felony crime, such as rape or robbery. About 60 percent involved an argument between the man and woman.

Jennifer Couvillion, executive director of the Calcasieu Women’s Shelter, said she found the news “saddening and disheartening.” She said she follows the study, which is released every two years and had previously ranked Louisiana third and fifth.

Couvillion said a number of reasons may contribute to Louisiana’s unhappy climb. “We haven’t been hit as hard, but I think the economy may have something to do with it,” she said. “Any type of stress exacerbates domestic violence.”

She reiterated advocates’ definition of domestic abuse: “repeated manipulative and coercive behavior that one person uses to have control over another person.”

“You usually see a steady increase in aggression from verbal abuse on to physical and sexual abuse,” she said.

She said 75 percent of women are killed by an intimate partner when leaving or after leaving.

For the 2008-09 fiscal year, the shelter, which serves Calcasieu, Cameron and Allen parishes, housed 228 women and 198 children, and its nonresidential programs helped 818 women and 140 children.

Nonresidential programs include support groups and help from Southwest Louisiana Law Center legal advocates in preparing restraining orders and accompanying victims to court.

‘Victims are unique’

Detective Gerald Thomas with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office said he is seeing a steady increase in cases being reported.

“We first have more awareness,” he said. “A lot of victims feel they don’t have any options if, say, the abuser has the main source of income.”

Thomas said there are now more support systems in place so victims don’t feel stuck in abusive situations. Another reason, Thomas said, is that law enforcement has become more proactive.

“For a long time, we were just reacting, going to that call,” Thomas said. “Now we try to make sure victims know what services are available and that the deputies care.”

Thomas credited a lot of the changes to the domestic abuse task force, which comprises law enforcement officers, the District Attorney’s Office and legal advocates.

“We make sure that deputies know that the victims are unique,” Thomas said. “We let the deputy know, if you are called there seven, eight, nine times, it’s your job,” Thomas said. “It’s your job to be there for the victim.”

Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier counts a change in policy as a way to reach more victims.

“We no longer automatically accept the victim’s affidavit of non-prosecution,” DeRosier said. In about 70 percent of the cases, he said, the victim wants to drop charges after the fact despite repeated battering.

This could lead to a worstcase scenario, where the victim drops charges and the abuser kills her, he said. “This isn’t imaginary. I’ve seen it happen,” DeRosier said. “So we want to make the defendant and victim to understand the seriousness of this situation.”

Counseling required

“For the defendant, on a first offense, we would require anger management as part of pretrial diversion,” said Brent Hawkins, a Calcasieu assistant district attorney.

Hawkins said pretrial diversion usually lasts six months, but that officials always examine the offender’s history. “If we find drug or alcohol use, we will require treatment for those addictions as well,” Hawkins said.

When victims ask to drop charges, they are required to go to the Women’s Shelter for a short training course. The women are counseled about the cycle of violence and taught how to develop a safety plan if they decide to leave.

“In rural communities, there is a greater tendency to say we don’t want to get involved,” Hawkins said. “But you have children who are seeing this and then they are going to school trying to learn, while having this emotional baggage.”

Nationally, the rate of women killed by men in “single victim/single offender” category was 1.3 per 100,00. Louisiana, with 57 women killed in 2007, had a rate of 2.53 per 100,000.

Of the 57 women, 37 were in a relationship with the killer; 22 slayings began with an argument between the victim and the killer. Rounding out the top five: Alaska, Wyoming, Arkansas and Nevada.


September 25, 2009 at 6:17 pm