Written by Al Stover
The Fort Peck Tribes Family Violence Resource Center, at 629 Seventh Ave. S. in Wolf Point, held an ice cream social Oct. 18 in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
According to Patti McGeshick, director of the resource center, the event was to raise awareness about domestic violence and the mental effects on children who witness abuse.
In addition to the ice cream, staff members were on hand to answer questions. The resource center also provided information relating to domestic abuse.
McGeshick said the social was also about bringing the community together. Volunteers from around the city came to help at the event.
Advocates And Volunteers
The resource center offers emergency services to victims of physical, psychological, economic and sexual abuse.
Helen Belcher, volunteer advocate at the resource center, said it is important to raise awareness about domestic abuse because people are quiet about it and by raising awareness it allows victims the chance to get help.
“It gives victims a chance to talk to someone about it,” Belcher said. “These young girls in relationships do not realize that a boyfriend’s abusive behavior is not normal behavior.”
The role of an advocate is to assist the police with emergencies and take care of the victim, male or female, Native or non-Native, and make sure they are safe and healthy.
Advocates at the resource center also help with restraining orders and transport victims to an emergency shelter at an undisclosed location. They also transport victims to long-term shelters at another branch and develop safety kits for victims.
There are 10 to 12 volunteers who work during the week and weekend emergency services.
Counseling For Children
Michelle Trottier is a forensic intimate and crisis counselor. She works with tribal criminal investigators, as well as state and federal law enforcement.
Trottier also works with victims of child abuse and neglect and will sometimes do interviews and conclusions and recommendations to courts and monitor a child’s progress before, during and after a trial through counseling or home visits.
She also accompanies sexual abuse victims to medical exams to reduce trauma and advocates resources for victims and non-offending family members in an upcoming trial.
In addition to helping victims, Trottier goes out to the schools and does mandatory reporting for staff. She coordinates with the school on safe and unsafe touching presentations for grades kindergarten through five.
Trottier said by educating children they will be knowledgeable on what is safe and whom to tell.
“It lets them know they can call 911 no matter how young they are,” Trottier said.
Bruce Bauer is a compliance officer with the Fort Peck Assiniboibne and Souix Sex Offender Registry and SORNA Team. He and fellow officer Jeremy Christensen are in charge of monitoring all sex offenders convicted of any kind of sex crime on the Fort Peck Reservation.
The compliance officers keep offenders compliant with federal and state law. They also do random checks where offenders live and do reports on them.
The compliance officers have a memorandum of understanding with other agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service. Offenders have three days to get in contact with officers, even if they are from another state. They also have to comply with tribal and state law. When an offender registers on the reservation, they have to register for life.
Bauer said there are 89 registered sex offenders on the reservation and they do random checks on them at any time.
Bauer and Christiansen also update the offender’s information on the Fort Peck Tribal Court website. Transients must also fill out registration forms.
If an offender has not made contact, officers can call the marshals, who will issue a federal warrant and officers can arrest them.
Bauer also said compliance officers go to the schools and pass out a list of sex offenders in the area, along with their photos. They also alert the neighbors living around the residence of the offender.
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