Open forum to address community violence |

Open forum to address community violence

An early intervention approach to responding to violence in our community will the be focus for this year’s open forum on violence, sponsored by Truckee Pines Apartments and Tahoe Women’s Services.

Last year, a forum on domestic violence addressed community concerns and questions on the topic and how to get help for neighbors, family and friends who were victims. It had such a positive response from the community, Tom Ballou, TPA manager, decided to organize the event again, addressing violence in the community in general.

“It’s an open forum. Any activity that you see your community that is violent or can be escalated to violence can be addressed,” said Ballou.

There will be a panel made of representatives from different agencies, including TGIF, Nevada County Substance Abuse, Tahoe Women’s Services, Project MANA and more. Judge Andy Holmer from the Nevada County Superior Court will also be part of the panel.

The series of events that occur with intervention and what the actual steps in intervention will be discussed in depth for friends, neighbors and family members.

“In some respects, the response from neighbors and the community is the prevention piece,” said Ballou. “I think in our community, there is more abuse going on that people are aware of.” He gave the example that in Truckee Pines Apartments alone, about 30 percent of the women are single mothers that have left abusive, controlling or manipulative relationships.

In 1998, the Tahoe Women’s Services staff and volunteers handled 325 crisis line calls from domestic violence victims and 58 crisis line calls from sexual assault victims. They conducted in-person counseling for 298 domestic violence victims and 69 sexual assault victims. They helped handle temporary restraining orders for 75 people, including accompaniment to court. They also provided shelter for 60 adults and 64 children fleeing domestic violence.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office reported 361 assaults in 1998 and 48 domestic violence referrals.

At last year’s forum, Tahoe Women’s Services showed a video in which a couple was watching TV in their apartment and could hear a domestic violence situation occurring next door. Instead of calling the police or notifying anyone, they turned up the volume on the TV.

“It’s that kind of impotence we need to get beyond,”said Ballou.

Ballou has made progress in opening the lines of communication within the Truckee Pines community. He started weekly neighborhood watch meetings last year, but now holds a monthly potluck gathering which he says helps emphasize a more social, get-to-know-your-neighbor environment.

“We’ve settled into a pretty solid core of long-term residents. People know who’s who,” he said. “It’s a tremendously safe community and the residents feel that.”

But as the appearance of violence in the news nationwide escalates, especially with youth, addressing concerns in an open forum seems highly relevant.

According to data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services, domestic violence is growing at a rapid rate in the U.S. among all classes, cultures, age cohorts, economic and religious groups.

DHHS identified the following as root causes of violence:

– Poverty and unemployment

– Underemployment and economic disequilibrium

– Lack of housing and displacement

– Circumstances of racism and injustice

– Alcohol and substance abuse

– Hopelessness and despair

Ballou said he hopes for a good turnout from the community this year. Last year, more than 40 people came to the forum.

“It’s difficult to get the victims out, unfortunately. If you know anyone or suspect anyone is a victim, this forum should inform someone how to respond effectively if something happens,” said Ballou.

Cassie Hebel, TWS client services coordinator, who is working with Ballou in organizing the forum, said the key is keeping the community safe by creating awareness.

While violence in general in the community will be discussed, domestic violence will be a main focus.

“Because domestic violence is so high in the community, it will be one of the main topics presented,” she said.

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