Role of women's shelter defined at group meeting
by PHILLIP WILLIAMS
Mar 30, 2014 | 3965 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A representative of the Women’s Center of East Texas and a spokeswoman for gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott addressed the Cherokee Rose Republican Women’s monthly meeting Monday afternoon at the Gilmer Country Club.

Brooke King, Nonresidential Projects Director for the center’s shelter in Longview, spoke after Hannah Watts, who becomes a field representative for Abbott in May, explained her job of coordinating volunteers for her candidate’s campaign.

The Women’s Center, which serves males as well as female victims of domestic and/or sexual violence, provides a “gated, secure” shelter in Longview which Mrs. King said houses women and children under age 18. (Other housing is arranged for males.) Last year, the shelter provided “over 4,000 shelter nights” to about 300 actual victims, she said.

The facility has six rooms, can comfortably house 20 persons, and is “not an open room with bunks,” Mrs. King said.

The center also provides a toll-free hotline (800-441-5555) which is answered 24 hours every day of the year. Anyone with a problem can contact an “advocate,” and the center tries to help victims identify their safest options, she said.

In the middle of the night, she said, someone can call the hotline, then go to a police department. If a woman under age 65 comes in, the shelter does not report the matter to law enforcement unless children were harmed, Mrs. King added.

“There are safe ways to get out” of bad situations, she said. By contrast, when someone leaves “without a safety plan in place,” the chances of being a victim of domestic violence rise 75 percent, Mrs. King warned.

If someone walks in off the street, she said, the center does an assessment to see who the victim needs to meet with. Furthermore, “We do refer out to multiple therapists within the community,” including in Gilmer, and the center works with people on money management, Mrs. King said.

She said she sees victims of stalking and human trafficking.

The killing of Cheyenne Green in the Gilmer High School parking lot last Sept. 26 (an act which Gilmer police said appeared to be domestic violence) brought the problem “close to home,” said the speaker. “We still don’t really like to talk about it (abuse),” Mrs. King added.

“People don’t know we’re here until they need us,” she said, although Miss Green’s death created “a lot of awareness.”

Mrs. King also said “there is a lot” of domestic violence in Upshur County, and the center has an office open part-time in the Roberts Building in Gilmer. “We have a great relationship with the DA’s Office,” and the center works with 6th to 12th graders in Gilmer Schools, she added.

The speaker added that the number of men the center serves is increasing. She explained that men feel “trapped” in homes with physically violent or emotionally abusive women because if the man leaves, the woman can use the children as “pawns” by not letting him see them.

In addition, men can be victims of homosexual rape or even rape by women, Mrs. King said.

In her talk, Miss Watts told the group Attorney General Abbott’s race for governor against Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis is “one of the big races” not only in the state, but nationwide because “if Texas elects a Democrat, then we’re going to have a problem nationally.”

The speaker termed Sen. Davis “such a huge Democrat challenger that is not present in the other races” on the November general election ballot.

In addition, Miss Watts said the Senator, who is “sort of famous for her big abortion filibuster on the (Texas) Senate floor,” would welcome President Obama “with open arms” to Texas if elected governor. Instead, Texas needs a “fighter” who will “push back against the federal government,” argued Miss Watts, whose father, Upshur Countian David Watts Jr., unsuccessfully ran recently against George P. Bush for the GOP nomination for state Land Commissioner.

During Miss Watts’s presentation, Cherokee Rose member Gay Tucker alluded to a newspaper story which she said showed Sen. Davis “gave everybody the impression she made it on her own” when actually, her then-husband took care of their children and paid her way through law school. The story showed Sen. Davis left him when she got her degree, according to Mrs. Tucker.

After Mrs. King and Miss Watts spoke, Upshur County Republican Party Chairman Cynthia Ridgeway, who is also a Cherokee Rose member, discussed the upcoming May 27 GOP runoff for several state offices, a Congressional seat which covers part of Upshur County, and for the county’s Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace post. Wyone Manes and Kimberly Clift-Stone are seeking the JP office.

Mrs. Ridgeway said she would recommend only one voting place in each of the four county commissioner precincts. She also said the County Commissioners Court will likely restrict the one week of early voting to the County Courthouse in Gilmer.

Mrs. Ridgeway said many voters came to the courthouse on primary election day March 4, or the day before, erroneously thinking they could vote there then. (The early voting at the courthouse had concluded the prior week, and no election-day voting was held there.)

The GOP County Chairman also, as noted in Wednesday’s Mirror, expressed surprise that so many resolutions (31) were presented to the party’s March 22 County Convention.

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