October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Interview with Carrie Schuman from WISE.
1. Carrie, tell me about yourself and the work you do in Newaygo County.
My name is Carrie Schuman and I’ve been working at WISE (Women Information Services Inc.) since the beginning of August. I am the WISE Newaygo County Domestic Violence Outreach Coordinator. Before WISE, I worked with another agency that helped families in crisis and I was often dealing with issues of domestic violence. I currently work with survivors of domestic violence and help them cope with the fall-out of domestic violence and help them find resources within our community. The number one thing I do is act as a good listener and support survivors. The more you can talk about something, the more you can heal. My specific job is advocating for female and male survivors of domestic violence.
2. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Why does domestic violence happen and what are you doing to help people?
People mistakenly think that domestic violence is about anger management. It is really about control. An abuser controls others by using physical violence, controlling money, isolating loved ones and more. When a victim tries to leave that situation, that is when things can escalate. That is why so many people are afraid to leave.
WISE offers services in Newaygo County such as a 24-hour hotline, 24-hour emergency shelter, advocacy, and classes. We have a full domestic violence and sexual assault response team. We work with the courts, nonprofits, and law enforcement agencies to help people. We need to focus more on awareness efforts. That is something I would like to focus on in Newaygo County. A big part of our mission is empowering our clients. Whatever the victim needs to move forward is what we focus on.
I also lead a community coalition that brings together different agencies and organizations to focus on this issue.
3. Since COVID, what is your agency experiencing?
WISE is still offering all of the same services as we always have, but of course we are being safe by following safety precautions. We had to update our shelter by adding things like air purifiers and a laundry area. We created separate food prep areas. We are making sure everyone has the appropriate PPE.
Domestic violence victims who work remotely or lost their jobs are trapped at home with their abuser. It gives more power to the abusers. It makes it harder for victims to call and get help because the person hurting them is in the next room. It puts some people in more dangerous situations.
4. If someone is experiencing domestic violence, what can he or she do and what can he or she expect once a call is made for help.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the WISE hotline. If you are in a dangerous situation, call 911. WISE can help advocate, but cannot stop the abuser.
If you know someone who is experiencing domestic violence, don’t confront the abuser because this may put the victim at higher risk. Listen and give support to the person who is being abused.
5. What else can I do to help?
Follow us on Facebook. This helps raise awareness. We also need supplies, paper products, home goods. Anything a mom with young kids starting over in an apartment could use, we could use. There is a donate button on our website. We canceled fundraisers and are currently accepting donations. Cash donations allow us to meet the unique needs of our clients - from dentures to drivers training. It is best to call our phone number to set up a drop off date/time. We want to thank the Fremont Area Community Foundation for helping us fill in many of the funding gaps for Newaygo County.
Advocates are available 24/7 to speak with survivors of domestic or sexual violence.
Call 1-800-374-WISE or 231-796-6600.
Women’s Information Service, Inc. (WISE) provides crisis intervention and support services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence by empowering individuals, children and families along with our community partners to reclaim their sense of self.