In February, Lansing police responded to 95 calls for domestic violence and nearly 20 calls for sexual assault. According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, two-thirds of sexual assaults are NOT reported to authorities.
Those are the facts. Now let’s talk about how to get help. This week we’re bringing you a series called “WKAR Connects,” where we let you know about local organizations working to end sexual and domestic violence.
The first one we look at is End Violent Encounters, also known as EVE. WKAR’s Katie Cook spoke with Executive Director Erin Roberts.
EVE started in 1977 under a different name, at a time when there was nowhere for domestic violence victims to turn, and the number of domestic violence situations law enforcement were responding to wasn’t even being recorded. Now it helps women in Ingham and Eaton counties.
Q: What services does EVE offer?
“We have a shelter for domestic violence victims, we have counseling services for domestic and sexual violence, stalking, dating violence, and all the counseling services are at no cost to the survivor. We have advocacy services that will help when somebody's restarting in their lives or they need to go to court and testify, we sit with them while they wait, we sit with them afterwards we prep them for what to expect. Our advocates also work with people on housing, employment, anything that may be needed in order to get wherever the survivor has identified that they want to go.”
Q: Is there anything people in the community may not know about EVE?
“One of the things that people tend to not know about us is that you don't ever have to go into shelter to receive our services. You don't need a police report, you don't need to have a sexual assault nurse examination, you don't need to have anything other than calling and telling us you need support.”
Q: Our community, as you know right now is in a time of turmoil; the MSU community sort of expands to Lansing and East Lansing, and in the wake of the Larry Nassar case, what do you think we need as a community to be able to move forward from this?
“I think some of the most important pieces are the ones where we're opening up to having the discussions about this. About what are we doing as schools, what are we doing as law enforcement, what are we doing as churches, community centers, wherever people go, doctors offices, all of these different types of entities are now beginning to look at introspect, what do we know about this what do we know about how to report, what do we know about how to support somebody when they do come forwards... all of those questions, they've been there, these situations are not just Larry Nassar they are so far beyond and they exist in every walk of life. We need to have those conversations we need to hear what the survivors want, need, and have identified were not available for them.”
Q: After the Nassar sentencings, a group of people from EVE and The Firecracker Foundation gathered outside the courthouses holding signs of support for the survivors. Why did you feel that survivors needed to see that?
“It was driven by that understanding of how brave it is to stand in a public venue like they were and address your perpetrator and be open about your very intimate details of your sexual assault. And the best thing we can do is say ‘we hear you and we believe you and we support you,’ and as they walked out you could see to some of them what it meant to see people gathered out in the cold, standing there just to honor their bravery.”