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Domestic violence outreach advocate hired by Passages
PASSAGES, a Program for Victims of Domestic Vio-lence and Sexual Assault, hoped to draw attention to Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April with the placement of blue pinwheels. Pin-wheels were placed in various locations, including Richland Center and Viroqua. In 2018, Passages served 358 sexual assualt victims and 245 children.

DRIFTLESS REGION - The forces fighting domestic abuse locally just got a little stronger with the hiring of a new domestic violence outreach advocate for Crawford County.

Passages, a program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, received grant funding to hire for the position. 

Glenda, the newly hired domestic violence outreach advocate, has a college degree in human services and psychology and a social work training certificate. She was previously employed as a social worker. 

Glenda joins Becky, the Crawford County sexual assault victim advocate working for Passages, as part of the support team for victims of these crimes. It is estimated that about 40 to 45 percent of domestic abuse victims are also victims of sexual assault.

Both Glenda and Becky will continue to serve clients in the county with a variety of support services through Passages.

Glenda and Becky provide clients with transportation to court appointments, counseling, hospital appointments, food pantry access and legal counseling among other things. They also help some clients access housing through the Passages shelter in Richland County and apartments owned by the organization.

In addition to the transportation and housing services, Glenda and Becky help clients get access to benefits like Badger Care health insurance and the WIC nutritional program. 

Often when victims of domestic abuse leave their residence in an emergency they take with them very little.

“They might just take a diaper bag, a purse or a toy,” Becky explained. “They don’t take much. They just go.”

That’s where services provided by Passages are important. Glenda and Becky can get their clients food resources, clothes and much more.

In addition to direct services to clients, Glenda facilitates a weekly support group for victims of domestic violence. In the Prairie du Chien schools, Glenda has a small group meeting with students in need of services that are identified by teachers and others in he school district.

Crawford County Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant Ryan Fradette is glad to see Glenda hired by Passages to become the county’s domestic violence outreach advocate. Fradette works with the majority of sensitive crime cases involving the sheriff’s department. Sensitive crimes include sexual abuse, child abuse, child sexual abuse and elderly abuse.

With Glenda advocating for victims of domestic violence, Fradette sees another resource that can help to address the problem.

“It’s kind of a two-way street,” Fradette explained. “I’ve used Becky during a sexual assault investigation to transport victims to a hospital for an examination. It’s called SANE and it stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examination. It’s a very good resource to have.”

Lindsay Gillitzer is the Victim Witness Coordinator in the Crawford County District Attorney’s Office and another supporter of the work Passages does. She, like Fradette, is glad to see the addition of Glenda as the domestic violence outreach advocate for Crawford County.

“Our jobs are very different,” Gillitzer said. “What they do at Passages is different than what I do in my office. I lean on them a lot. They are very helpful. In an emergency, they can safely house these victims of domestic violence, who are scared for their safety. They can take them to the shelter.”

Gillitzer also praised the importance of the transportation services that Passages can provide to their clients–getting them to court appointments, medical appointments, counseling appointments and so much more.

The victim witness coordinator also was thankful for the paper work that Passages can help the victims of the domestic violence and sexual assault complete.

“Through Passages I am able to refer victims to services,” Gillitzer said. “I don’t have a sexual assault counselor in my office. I don’t have a domestic abuse counselor in my office.”

Gillitzer also noted that Passages advocates like Glenda and Becky are often among the first people on the scene. They are on duty 24 hours every day. Officers can call them and they will respond.

The victim witness coordinator noted that she is not aware of a victim until a file on the case arrives in her office and that can take awhile in the case of sexual assault or domestic abuse investigations.

“The support Passages gives me and this office pales in comparison to the support they give to the countless victims of crime that they deal with,” Lindsay Gillitzer said. “We are very lucky as a community to have an organization like Passages helping us.”

Becky and Glenda are also part of SART (Sexual Assault Response Team). The women from Passages join Fradette, Gillitzer, District Attorney Tim Baxter, Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Mezera, Crawford County Health Educator Sonya Lenzendorf, Sandy Reuter from Crawford County Human Services and Prairie du Chien Police Department Detective Ashley Erickson at a SART meeting held monthly.

Lieutenant Fradette said the meetings are designed to anonymously review cases and how they were handled to see how responses can be improved and what is working well.

“Our ultimate goal is raising public awareness,” Glenda explained. “We work as a team to assist, where we can, law enforcement and the schools combat domestic violence.”

As for Passages advocates Glenda and Becky, they just want to raise public awareness around the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. They also want to let everyone know that they stand ready to help those in need. Passages can be reached at the 24-hour Crisis Line 1-800-236-4325. Passages can also be reached at 608-647-3616. To reach Crawford County Domestic Violence Outreach Advocate Glenda directly call 608-485-0233 or you can reach Support Services Advocate Becky at 608-604-3434.

Glenda and Becky noted that in addition to the victims of domestic violence, they are frequently contacted by the friends and family of victims seeking assistance.