SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - October marks ‘Domestic Violence Awareness’ month, but for Project Celebration Incorporated, aiding victims of violent relationships is a year-round fight.
PCI, as the nonprofit is commonly referred to, provides a myriad of services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. PCI operates two domestic violence shelters for women and children fleeing dangerous relationships and offers legal counsel, as well as forensic interviews for children.
Chanel Willis, a community outreach advocate for Project Celebration, said the signs of physical, emotional and sexual abuse are not always obvious.
When a victim of abuse is ready to discuss a toxic relationship with a loved one, Willis believes taking time to seriously listen, as well as to maintain a record of the conversation, is one of the best ways to offer support and guidance.
“Allow them to tell you what’s going on and to validate what’s happening, try to make them not feel judged,” Willis emphasized. “When they do decide to leave, being there and being that support, as well as taking notes and recording a log of what happens.”
Perhaps most importantly, Willis wants victims to understand that getting ready to flee domestic violence can also be one of the most volatile and potentially deadly moments.
She wants victims to call PCI to discuss a safety plan, which would be put into action once the choice is made to leave a dangerous partner.
“We’ll do what’s called an ‘over-the-phone assessment’ where we discuss safety planning,” Willis said. “One of the most dangerous times is when a person decides to leave, the person in-control loses control.”
Unfortunately, according to PCI, the COVID-19 pandemic is also the impetus behind an increase in cases of domestic violence. Job loss, health concerns and financial strain are compounded to create what could quickly turn into a hostile relationship.
“The lack of access to people, the lack of access to necessities and not to mention the stress of people losing their jobs,” Willis explained. “We’re seeing a lot of that due to this pandemic.”
If you believe your life is in immediate danger, call 911 right away.
Project Celebration can be reached at (318) 256-6242. You can also send an email to Director@Projectcelebration.com