City offers support to victims of abuse

By Gus Bode

More than one million women become victims of rape or physical assault by their intimate partner each year and such crimes occur everywhere, including Carbondale.

There are approximately 4.9 million rapes and physical assaults reported annually by U.S. women against their partners, according to a survey by the U.S. National Institute of Violence and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prompting many communities, including Carbondale, to offer outreach programs that support and educate women, who are or have been in violent situations.


Carbondale Police officer Randy Mathis said the department offers resources that women can turn to for information and help, as well as a class on personal safety for women.

According to Mathis, the department gives pamphlets to victims of domestic violence that explains what rights they have.

In addition, department officials refer victims to the crime victim’s advocate, Susie Toliver.

Women can get assistance in obtaining an order of protection, transportation assistance and help relocating through the crime victim’s advocate.

“We try to support them through the system,” Toliver said.

Women can also receive financial help through The Women’s Center and other agencies, depending on the situation, Toliver said. Toliver tries to contact the victim by phone, in person or by mail, but it is up to them whether to respond.

However, there are some women that do not respond, Toliver said, because they believe the situation was blown out of proportion or it was an isolated incident.


Furthermore, Toliver said she sees many women that continue to stay in what the National Women’s Health Resource Center calls the “cycle of violence.”

According to research by the center, the cycle starts when tension builds in a relationship, than moves onto violence, which is followed by reconciliation that soon returns to tension-building stage.

But, Toliver said she will support these women an unlimited number of times.

“To me, the best thing I can tell them is, one time or 20 times, they can continue to come here,” Toliver said.

In addition to the crime victim’s advocate, The Women’s Center, located at 408 W. Freeman, offers counseling to women, who are or were a victim of violence.

“I encourage everyone to do the support group or counseling,” Toliver said.

There is also a Domestic Violence Clinic available through the SIUC Law School, which offers legal services to victims of violence.

The program recently expanded its services to victims who cannot afford private attorneys, through a $40,000 Violent Crime Victims Assistance Act Fund grant.

The city also offers a women’s personal safety class, which is free and open to all women. The class teaches women how to avoid hazardous situations and escape potential attacks, Mathis said.

The class’s first section teaches women how to prevent an attack, which Mathis said is the most important part of the class.

“My personal view is the more women do to take the precautionary measures, the less you will have to use the thing taught in the second half of the class, which is escaping an attack,” Mathis said.