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New Lecture Series Gives ‘Voices’ To Victims

Oct. 24, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Beth Kuhles

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The Crime Victims’ Institute at Sam Houston State University will debut the new Voices Lecture Series on Oct. 30 to explore victimization issues and career opportunities available in victim services.

Voices lecture series logoIn honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, the first speaker will be Barbie Brashear, executive director of the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, who will share information about her work at 2 p.m. in the Criminal Justice Center’s Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom.

After spending years working in women’s shelters, rape crisis centers and advocacy, Brashear began to see how difficult it is for victims of domestic violence to navigate the system and find help.

In 2010, Brashear joined the HCDVCC to find new ways to link victims with the services they so desperately need. Her job is to provide easier access to service and increase awareness on this important issue.

“I’m really passionate about the issue of domestic violence,” Brashear said. “I know that domestic violence is a prevalent problem that touches at the heart of all social issues. When people know what it is, what to look for, and how to help, it makes a better community for all of us.”

The council, comprising organizations that serve or are impacted by victims of domestic violence, assists in community collaborations to increase the safety of victims and reduce and prevent domestic violence. Most recently, that included an assessment of law enforcement response to the these cases, which led to such improvements as training patrol officers, developing a script for 9-1-1 operators for domestic violence calls, and providing roundtable discussions among investigators and prosecutors in domestic violence cases throughout the county.

“We assess what services are being provided, how well they are working, and what gaps need to be filled,” Brashear said.

The council is in the process of doing the same thorough investigation of protective orders and for advocacy centers that serve victims in Harris County. In the future, they hope to do analyses of health care services and child and adult protective services to improve response throughout the county.

“I have seen what the needs of families really are and how difficult it is for them to navigate the system,” Brashear said. “Research shows that less than 10 percent of domestic violence victims will ever reach out for services, so we need to continue to raise awareness. We have to connect people to services through law enforcement, the criminal justice system, health care and schools. Anywhere there are people, we have to work to raise awareness.”

Brashear witnessed the impact of domestic violence firsthand when she worked at the Bridge Over Troubled Waters Shelter in Pasadena and at the Marion County Family Advocacy Center in Indianapolis, Ind.

For 18 years, she provided case management and advocacy for clients in women’s shelters and rape crisis centers. She also served as director of non-residential services, during which time she developed long-term housing options for victims of domestic violence, and was a member of a team with two detectives on the street doing outreach for victims of these crimes.

She brought her passion and talents to the HCDVCC to help identify gaps and link victims to services.

One of the programs operated by the organization is the Adult Death Review Team, which analyzes violent deaths that are the result of domestic violence to determine how it could have been prevented. Those lessons can then be incorporated into the system or programs.

“We want to bring folks to the table who served or are impacted by the victims of domestic violence,” Brashear said.

For students interested in the victims’ movement, Brashear recommends they volunteer at an agency that shares their passions.

“The biggest tip I can share is to reach out and volunteer,” Brashear said. “See what agencies exist, go out and visit and volunteer.”

The Voices Lecture Series is expected to host five speakers throughout the fall and spring semesters. Focusing on the victim services field, upcoming speakers will discuss domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and exploitation, and human trafficking.

“It is important for students interested in pursuing careers in victim services or in the criminal justice system, as well as others, to understand the toll that crime takes on the victims and the types of opportunities available to work with and on behalf of crime victims,” said Leana Bouffard, CVI director. “This lecture series is designed to provide a forum for students to learn about victimization and how they might contribute in their future careers to preventing victimization and responding thoughtfully and supportively to crime victims.”




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