Chez Hope, Patterson police to ramp up domestic violence services

Taylor Robison, right, Chez Hope legal and outreach advocate, discusses with Patterson Police Chief Patrick LaSalle options on helping survivors of domestic abuse receive short-term help and shelter and, if needed, aid them in getting out of abusive relationships and becoming independent.
(The Daily Review Photo by Preston Gill)

By PRESTON GILL pgill@daily-review.com

Chez Hope, an agency providing services to victims of domestic violence, has reached out to Patterson Police Chief Patrick LaSalle to help the organization assist survivors.
The non-profit agency in Franklin, established in 1983 and serving St. Mary, Lafourche and Assumption parishes, provides, among other things, shelter and support for survivors and their children.
Taylor Robison, legal and outreach advocate for the agency, said cooperating with law enforcement agencies is important in helping direct survivors to the many services that Chez Hope offers.
“When survivors come for services, we find out that most have been referred to us by law enforcement,” Robison said.
LaSalle said involving law enforcement with Chez Hope is a good thing.
“Chez Hope advocates are well-trained, well-educated and can provide victims the assistance they need or direct them to where they need to go,” LaSalle said.
In addition, a 24-hour crisis line, individual assessment, and case management are provided. Chez Hope is also involved with community education including law enforcement training and support groups. It coordinates domestic abuse intervention through the court system and provides additional services to child victims of domestic violence.
Robison said Chez Hope strives to assure comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence and is committed to working towards social change in communities and institutional practices as well as change in cultural attitudes that perpetuate violence.
“We are an emergency shelter. Survivors can stay in our shelter up to six weeks,” Robison said. “Once you are in the shelter, you will set goals. We will help you find a job, help to find housing. If you would like to relocate to another city, to another shelter, we can also help survivors do that also.”
There are support group meetings at the Patterson Area Civic Center on Wednesday afternoons and also in Franklin on Monday nights, Robison said.
LaSalle said law enforcement should become more involved in following up on domestic violence cases, not just responding to a call or making an arrest.
“As far as I am concerned, we are not staying involved with the victim enough to work them through their problems,” LaSalle said of law enforcement. “We should stay involved with that victim and do follow up phone calls. With our partnership with Chez Hope we hope to enhance officer training and help them realize the job is not finished when they do the paper work. We need to follow up with the victim, communicate with Chez Hope so that we can save these people that are trapped in this lifestyle.”
LaSalle said he thinks increased follow through and proactive measures by the police department can be accomplished in the regular routine of his officers’ work week. But, he said the issue is important enough that if expanded hours and resources are needed, it should be provided.
“We will have to do more,” LaSalle said. “If the future calls for us to have more people and funding available to address this very troubling issue, we will do it. The Patterson Police Department is going to address this issue aggressively. I believe, speaking for law enforcement as a whole, we should do more.”
Besides reaching out to LaSalle and other police agencies, Robison said she is reaching out to schools, district attorneys and fire departments in a public awareness campaign to let them know what is available to survivors.
A news release from Chez Hope stated it served 885 men, women and children in 2012 and as of Oct. 1, 2013, has served 1,120 men, women and children, the release said. The organization receives 300 to 350 crisis calls a month from persons requesting assistance. In the last 10 months, Chez Hope has received $65,000 budget cuts to state and federal grants, the release said.
Chez Hope receives a significant portion of its funding through the State of Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, formerly Office on Women’s Policy, according to an audit.
Information on Chez Hope can be obtained by calling 337-828-4200.
Robison said the organization relies heavily on local donations of money and items such as toiletries and clothes.
Information on Chez Hope can be obtained by calling 337-828-4200.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

Franklin Banner-Tribune
P.O. Box 566, Franklin, LA 70538
Phone: 337-828-3706
Fax: 337-828-2874

Morgan City Daily Review
P.O. Box 948, Morgan City, LA 70381
Phone: 985-384-8370
Fax: 985-384-4255

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