New Albany News

Center for Family Safety and Healing

'Classic' beneficiary seeks to help police with domestic calls

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The Center for Family Safety and Healing, which is the beneficiary of the New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix and Family Day, introduces new programs each year to reduce child abuse and assist victims of domestic violence.

This year, the Center for Family Safety and Healing will use some of the proceeds from the Classic to partner with the Columbus Division of Police in sending out a "second responder" for families affected by domestic violence.

The second responder would be notified of a domestic situation and would attempt to safely contact the victim to see if help is needed, said Karen Days, the center's president.

"We want to get them into safety, connect them to resources and hopefully prevent further acts of violence to them," said Alyssa Kornowa, the center's family advocacy clinician who will serve as a second responder. "We want to try and break the cycle (of violence)."

Days said many women cannot escape their abusers and need help. Often, they do not have the means to leave.

In one case, Days said, the abuser took all of the victim's clothing with him when he left the house.

In another, the abuser hit his victim and took a picture of her wounds, she said. When the victim did something to displease him, he pointed at the picture.

"The violence escalates when the victim tries to get help," Days said. "We need to have safeguards in place for (the victim)."

Added Kornowa: "We're trying to reach those people that wouldn't normally be reached by an advocate. We'd like to go to the home if it's safe or meet with them (the victim) in the community. If it's unsafe, we'll meet with them over the phone."

Days said Kornowa could help police officers understand the complexity of some situations.

Days cited the case of a woman who'd been stabbed by her abuser yet defended him when police arrived on the scene.

Once the abuser was taken away -- out of earshot and out of sight of the victim -- the victim asked police to take her out of the home.

Days said the victim couldn't say anything against the abuser in front of him, or she would have paid for it later.

Days said if Kornowa is successful in removing some victims from their surroundings, other Center for Family Safety and Healing programs would be needed to help the victim return to a normal life.

The center provides counseling, advocacy, shelter and links to other community services for victims.

Counseling and therapy are part of the concerted effort to help victims, who might not realize that abuse is not part of every relationship, Days said.

"It will help them make a different decision for their next relationship," she said.

The Center for Family Safety and Healing was created in 2011 when the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children's Hospital merged with the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, an initiative started by New Albany resident Abigail Wexner.

Wexner's 16th annual New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix and Family Day, which she founded to raise money for the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, is Sunday, Sept. 22, at her New Albany estate. The event has generated about $20 million for the cause in the past 13 years.

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