COLBY—Options Domestic & Sexual Violence Services, Inc., serving victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking for over 30 years, has announced plans to expand in far Northwest Kansas by re-opening its Colby satellite office.
The office will be at 225 W. Fifth St. The unique residential location will provide free, confidential walk-in services between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, as well as 24-hour crisis intervention response.
Services will include 24-hour helpline, 24-hour crisis intervention, 24-hour medical advocacy, 24-hour law enforcement advocacy, personal advocacy, court advocacy, 24-hour emergency accommodations, 24-hour safe shelter, supportive counseling, support groups, child/youth services, parent and child advocacy, and community awareness and education.
For the next eight to 12 months, safe shelter will continue to be provided in the Options Shelter House in Ellis County, allowing the agency time to expand services again to also include a safe shelter location in Thomas County in the near future (pending funding). The Colby office location will focus on serving residents of Thomas, Cheyenne, Rawlins, Decatur, Sherman, Sheridan, Wallace, Logan and Gove counties.
“The new Options satellite office will minimize barriers that victims and survivors in rural communities have in accessing services,” said Jennifer Hecker, executive director for Options. “We’re excited to restore local walk-in services to far western Kansas that are survivor-driven and trauma-informed. It’s a long time coming.”
The new satellite office will be staffed with two family advocates, feature a resource library for victims and survivors, and offer weekly support group services.
Through a grant from the Kansas Department for Children and Families, a variety of classes including a 12-week “Pattern Changing for Abused Women & Men” class designed to help survivors look at abusive patterns in their lives and empower them to create new, healthier patterns; a three-week “Conscious Discipline” class designed to rebuild the confidence and skill of parents who’s parenting has been undermined by an abusive partner; and monthly Parent Café events, which help to build the protective factors that reduce child abuse and build resiliency in adults and children who experience trauma, will also be offered.
As with all Options services, these classes are offered free of charge to survivors and victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence and human trafficking.
“When fuel cost is a barrier for people to attend the classes, we can offer a stipend to help offset the cost so they can come. We never want financial issues to be a barrier that prevents someone from seeking services,” Hecker said.
Over the past two years, Options, Inc. services have increase an astounding 295 percent – growing from about 1,150 services in 2015 to over 7,000 services in 2017. Services have continued to rise in the Thomas County area as well.
“Although we had to close our Colby office in 2016, we continued to provide services, and monitor and evaluate those services. Over the past year, services to Thomas County have increased 59 percent. At that point, we knew it was time to focus on re-opening a satellite office,” Hecker said.
Options is working with allied professionals such as court and law enforcement, health care professionals and others to ensure that services are provided through a trauma-informed lens.
“The community, as well as the city commission have been great partners, and we look forward to continuing our work to make Thomas County a safer place where no one goes without the services they need to live a safe and healthy life,” Hecker said. “Our goal is to provide help, hope and healing for those experiencing gender-based violence.”