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When most people think of Safe Nest, they think of our confidential shelter which has always been a cornerstone of the agency. Annually the shelter houses over 500 victims of domestic violence and their children and Safe Nest provides all of the essential supportive services needed, including case management and special programs for the children. These services assist victims of abuse to start over in violence-free lives. Few people know the shelter also houses the domestic violence hotline and the Lethality Assessment Project in partnership with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
These two programs are critical services in the community to provide safety and security to victims of domestic violence. The Lethality Assessment Project (LAP) identifies victims who are in highly lethal relationships through a police officer assessment administered when police respond to a domestic violence call. Victims scoring high on the assessment are immediately put into contact with specially trained Crisis Counselors on the hotline. The Crisis Counselors provide crisis intervention, access to shelter, safety planning and information and referrals.
This is only one aspect of Safe Nest’s Legal Advocacy Service for victims. Safe Nest staff and volunteers provide court accompaniment services for victims and provide information regarding the Temporary Protection Order (TPO) Court, as well as safety planning and moral support during the process. Safe Nest Advocates and volunteers work within the Family Violence Intervention Project office (TPO Office) to help victims complete the TPO applications and provide information about the court process. Victims needing further assistance may be provided an advocate to accompany them to court during the hearings. Furthermore, Safe Nest hotline staff assists victims in obtaining ETPO’s (Emergency Temporary Protection Orders) 24/7 at any hour of the day and night when the abusive partner has been arrested. The Safe Nest hotline is the only entity providing this needed service for local victims.
TPOs are an essential tool for victims of domestic violence. A 2008 study found that 64.8 percent of the women who receive a protection order remained violence free after a one year follow-up. Often victims of domestic violence who are seeking a Protective Order are accessing the justice system for the first time. Advocate support can make the difference in a victim remaining abuse-free.
Seeking a TPO may be the victim’s first time accessing the court system, but if there has been an arrest, it isn’t the last. Victims of domestic violence are often witnesses against their abusive partners in criminal court. To assist these victims Safe Nest has advocates assigned to the District Attorney’s office to help victims as they traverse this system. Advocates provide needed case management and liaison services between the victims and DAs.
This supportive service for victims is essential. Studies have found that victims who are supported while going through the court system have lower levels of psychological and physical re-abuse. Emotional and social support are key resiliency factors to preventing the revictimization by new partners. As such, intervening with women at this critical time is essential in reducing the rates of revictimization.
Whenever Safe Nest’s advocates reach a victim who has decided not to go into shelter, she is also referred to our counseling program. In an individual or group setting, Safe Nest counselors assist victims to overcome their trauma, increase their resiliency factors, and help them establish violence-free lives.
In our 36 years, Safe Nest has developed true wrap-around services for victims of domestic violence.