Group still breaking silence of domestic abuse 25 years later

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Family Violence Prevention, Inc. in Batesville has assisted victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault for 25 years now.

The group started in 1987 after a domestic violence victim came forward and found no outlet for help locally. Family Violence Prevention has since grown to offer various services from four separate locations.

"It's not an issue that many want to talk about at all," said Rebecca Riley.

As the group's executive director, Riley has tried to keep the discussion alive. She has created new ways to raise awareness about domestic violence, saying the best way is to put a face on the problem.

"What we have displayed are T-shirts that represent victims that have died as a result of violence," Riley said. "The T-shirts were either made by a family member or by a staff member with the family's permission."

The T-shirts hang in a special display inside the Fresh Start Resale Shop, which provides items for clients and sells things to benefit the group's operations. Riley says the shirts detail the situation of local victims and how they lost their lives due to violence.

"There's a big shame component behind abusive situations," Riley explained, "and it's very important to the board and to the staff at Family Violence Prevention that we take that stand and show that, yes, it is a reality. It is something that happens, unfortunately, in our community, but there are systems in place to help people get out of those situations when they're ready to do so."

Family Violence Prevention currently houses seven women and seven children in its Safe Haven Shelter. The group offers one-on-one support for rape victims and their family members at the Batesville Rape Crisis Center. Staff also coordinate court advocacy efforts at their Outreach Office in the Independence County Courthouse.

"We (also) have a 24-hour hotline," Riley noted. "It basically serves as a way for people to reach out for help whether they need crisis intervention (or) they need some safe place to go. We have a rotating on-call staff that will respond at all hours of the night."

The group commemorates people who have used these services in the past with another set of T-shirts. The shirts also hang in the resale shop, and Riley says these highlight the successes of survivors.

"There's a lot of very disturbing things that we see and hear," Riley said, "but it is very self-fulfilling whenever we are able to witness someone that actually makes that break for good and becomes independent without the dependency of an abusive situation."

To contact Family Violence Prevention, Inc. in Batesville, call 870-793-8111.

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