Elwood is fortunate to have Alternatives Incorporated – a not-for-profit agency working to end domestic violence and sexual assault – in our community. Serving six central Indiana counties – Madison, Hamilton, Hancock, Tipton, Henry, and overflow for Marion County – Alternatives Incorporated provides assistance with emergency shelter, crisis response, court assistance, protective order assistance, community education, workplace safety training, health care training, and law enforcement and first responder training.
Elwood native Natalie Warren has been with Alternatives Incorporated for four years, serving two years as a victim advocate and two years as a case manager. We appreciate the time she gave us last week to answer a few of our questions about the agency and tell us how helps victims of domestic abuse break the cycle of violence and to create a new life filled with dignity, respect, and joy.
Q: Considering that October is domestic violence awareness month, what do you want readers to know about Alternatives Incorporated?
A: Alternatives is a refuge for victims of domestic violence, as well as a resource for people who don’t need a shelter but still need services and guidance to get out of their situation. We have outreach advocates in Madison, Hancock, Hamilton, and Tipton Counties.
Q: What is Alternatives Incorporated doing this month to help increase awareness?
A: We have several tip nights at Jim Dandy in Hancock and Tipton Counties, and we do training. I recently did one at the Pipe Creek Fire Department. We also do fundraisers during October to help bring awareness, and we get out to talk with people. We’ll be at the Chili Cook-off, and I will be doing a program at the library on Thursday, October 19 for teens about dating violence, and I’ll do another program there for adults on Friday, October 20. Both programs will be an hour long starting at 5:00 p.m.
Q: Tell me about some of your programs that help women get out of abusive relationships?
A: We offer case management at the shelter. We also have Kid Connection, an after-school program for children of victims that gives them time to do homework and activities. We provide referrals, and we have groups inside the shelter to help residents improve their skills in conflict resolution, resume writing, and budgeting, as well as art therapy … those types of things.
Q: Do you serve men as well as women? If yes, what services do you offer the men?
A: Yes, we do serve men, and there is no difference in the type of services.
Q: Tell me about your staff.
A: There are five case managers, two children’s case managers, two prevention staff members, and an evening staff person from midnight to 8:00 a.m. who is an advocate. We also have weekend staff as well. We have four administrative staff and a residential manager. We don’t do counseling onsite; we refer them to other agencies. But we do help provide transportation to those appointments and provide bus passes.
Q: If someone is in a bad situation, or knows someone who is, what would you advise them to do?
A: If you know someone you suspect to be in a bad situation, you might want to talk with them. Sometimes victims will deny they’re in trouble, but if you see it, at least talk to them. We say, “Plant the seed.” The victim may be in denial. And there’s also the possibility that the victim may realize you were caring enough to notice, and may come back later and ask to talk. Or you could also reach out to me, and we can talk about the types of services the victim may need. We could do a protective order on their behalf and take it to the court to file for them, so they don’t have to deal with it as it can be a stressful situation.
In Elwood, I lead domestic violence classes for the court for anyone who has a no contact order but wants it modified. The victim has to do a class with me before the court will change it. It’s more to let the victim know our agency exists and what resources we officer, so they’ll know who to call.
Q: How long has Alternatives had a presence in Elwood?
A: Alternatives Incorporated has been in service since 1978 and has had a presence in Elwood since the late 1990s.
Q: What else would you like the readers to know about Alternatives?
A: If you’re in a situation, there is help and support. Someone is here 24 hours a day. Call us at (765) 643-0200.
For more information about Alternatives Inc. and their assistance and training programs, please visit their website at www.alternativesdv.org.