Monique Navarrette, an outreach educator and commissioned peace officer, said such victims can call the center’s toll-free number (800-441-5555) for assistance and “a safe place” in a shelter. All services are free to both female and male victims.
Addressing the meeting at the Round Table Cafe in Gilmer, the speaker said she educates law enforcement officers on the center’s services so “they can at least connect the victims to the resources” her organization offers.
(A former employee of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office in Linden, Ms. Navarrette said she retains her peace officer commission.)
She said out that the center serves six area counties—Upshur, Marion, Harrison, Panola, Rusk and Gregg. With about 14 paid staff members, the organization is financed by state and federal grants, and sales from “Hope’s Closet” stores in three area cities, she said.
The Women’s Center offers programs to help women with abusive husbands, even if the women want to stay in their marriage, and services include paid counseling and job-ready programs, the speaker added.
If her group can give a victim “the skills she needs to be strong,” she may obtain a protective order and “take the steps toward a positive, healthy life,” Ms. Navarrette said.
Asked about women who fear their husbands will kill them if they enter a shelter, the speaker replied, “You never tell anyone that they’re going to be safe. . . Even law enforcement can’t promise that.” But, she added, “We would work a safety plan with them.”
She said a woman can call the 800 number without her husband knowing it.
“We never tell anybody what to do,” she added.
There is no time limit on how long a woman and her children can stay in the shelter, and the center always has six to eight people with children, the speaker said.
Ms. Navarrette also noted that Uniform Crime Reporting from Austin shows Upshur County has the second- highest number of domestic violence calls in the 6-county area served by her organization—second only to Gregg. However, the figures could be skewed, she said.
She additionally pointed out that the state can now charge a man with domestic violence even if the woman doesn’t want to file charges.
Men are also victims of domestic violence, and “get sexually assaulted in your county jail right here in your city,” Ms. Navarrette said. She said her organization has several men at its center.
She indicated the center can help victims of homosexual rape, and underage boys who have had sexual relations with adult women, although men would be placed in a hotel rather than lodged at the shelter which houses females.
In addition, Ms. Navarrette said, her center donates to food banks, “so there’s a lot we do.” The organization’s Gilmer office is located in the Roberts Building on the north side of the downtown square.
Cherokee Rose member Sherry Breedlove, a volunteer at the Women’s Center, added some comments to Ms. Navarrette’s.
Before Ms. Navarrette spoke, Karen Bunn, a candidate for Upshur County District Clerk in the 2014 Republican primary, briefly addressed the GOP women’s group.
In addition, Republican Party of Upshur County Chairman Cynthia Ridgeway announced the county’s GOP Executive Committee will meet Sept. 21.
Guest speakers will be State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) and Upshur County resident David Watts Jr., a candidate for the Republican nomination for state Land Commissioner, she said.