October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Asheville Police Department (APD) is taking the opportunity to bring attention to the national issue and remind the community of domestic and sexual violence services for survivors in the Asheville area.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury and seventh leading cause of death for women in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.
As part of the effort to stop domestic and sexual violence, and to help guide survivors through recovery, local nonprofits, government, and law enforcement agencies came together to create the Buncombe County Family Justice Center (FJC) in 2016. The FJC consolidates various services into one location for survivors who are seeking help. This one-stop shop facility helps to mitigate what previously was a daunting and traumatizing process. APD maintains an on-site partnership with the Family Justice Center, providing seven personnel, including a Victim Services Advocate, who are dedicated to assisting victims and solving their cases. Detectives work closely with case managers, nurses, and advocates to lessen the trauma experienced by survivors in these types of cases.
APD officers treat domestic violence calls as high priority, life-threatening situations and are specially trained on how to approach and interact with victims. APD is also gearing up to launch a new training for our first responders that educates them on how trauma affects a sexual assault victim’s memory, bodily reactions and emotions. Officers will learn how their body language, tone of voice, and actions can impact the way a person heals from trauma as well as how likely he or she is to continue and cooperate with an investigation. In an effort to avoid re-traumatizing victims, officers will also get a refresher on the minimal facts needed to complete a report.
APD is always looking to improve its practices and, in addition to special training, invites representatives from partner organizations such as Our VOICE, Helpmate, Pisgah Legal Services, and Department of Social Services to provide input at monthly roll call sessions that are mandatory for all officers.
If you or someone you know may be a victim of domestic or sexual violence, here’s how to get help:
- Visit the Family Justice Center at 35 Woodfin Street. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome. Appointments can be scheduled ahead of time by calling 828-250-6900.
- Call the Helpmate 24-hour hotline at 828-254-0516 for free support to survivors of domestic violence. Helpmate is an on-site partner at the Family Justice Center offering emergency shelter, counseling, court advocacy and education.
- Call the Our VOICE 24-hour hotline at 828-255-7576 for free support to survivors of sexual violence. Our VOICE also works on-site at the Family Justice Center providing free counseling, advocacy, and education to victims of sexual assault or abuse.
- If it’s an emergency, call 9-1-1. To report an incident to APD’s non-emergency number, call 828-252-1110.