What Can I Do? Where Can I Go?

  • (l-r) Services will be held Saturday for baby Steven; Elizabeth Hill, Steven?s mother, in 2007 FMHS yearbook photo.

    (l-r) Services will be held Saturday for baby Steven; Elizabeth Hill, Steven?s mother, in 2007 FMHS yearbook photo.

If Domestic Violence Strikes, You Are Not Alone

By Patric Hedlund

It is hard for most people to imagine what it would be like to be the 19-year-old mother of a newborn infant, without money or resources, suddenly aware that her child may be in mortal danger.

This Saturday, March 28 memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. in Cuddy Hall for two-and-a-half month old Steven Schimmel. The baby died March 2 after allegedly being battered by Jayson Schimmel, 33, the baby’s father.

“The mother [Elizabeth Hill] was probably really frightened. Fear can set in and immobilize a person who has been traumatized earlier. You don’t know what may have happened to her in the past,” Doris Fleming, a counselor at The Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault (AAFVSA), explained in an interview Friday, March 20.

The Alliance has operated its 24-Hour Hotline for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault for 30 years in Kern County. Those in the Mountain Communities can call for help— (800) 273-7713—whether your address falls in the County of Ventura, Los Angeles or Kern.

Fleming was asked what would happen if Hill had called the hotline when the abuse first started.

“First we would make sure she was safe while speaking to us. Then we would try to help set up a plan to get her to safety. We would serve as a lifeline to her. As people who deal with domestic violence and sexual assault, we can get the resources, including arranging for transportation and a safe place to stay.

“If they give us an address and a phone number, we could file a Child Protective Services (CPS) report and send out law enforcement and a CPS worker to check on her and the child. We are required by law to do that if a child is in danger,” Fleming explained.

Last year, more than 17,800 women, children and men in Kern County were provided safety, food, clothing, awareness education, counseling and crisis intervention services by the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault (AAFVSA).

AAFVSA is a non-profit organization that began in 1979 with a group of volunteers operating a 24-hour crisis hotline to support victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. In addition to the hotline. AAFVSA staff and volunteers also provide a variety of programs and services dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault in our community.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Kern County

The Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault is encouraging everyone to take a stand against sexual assault. The kick-off event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) will take place on April 2, at 6 p.m. at the Bakersfield Marketplace in front of the fountain at 9000 Ming Avenue.

The event will include presentations of proclamations and resolutions from city, county and state political representatives along with certificates of acknowledgement to members of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).

Representatives from Bakersfield Police Department, Kern County District Attorney’s Office and the Kern County Sheriff’s Department will be honored.

“The certificates of appreciation will be awarded to those individuals who work directly with victims in our community,” said Doris Fleming, Case Management Supervisor. “They are individuals who work closely with the Alliance in our efforts to support victims during a difficult time. They are the unsung heroes and we feel their efforts should be recognized.”

This is part of the March 27, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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