Catholic Charities’ Domestic Violence Westside Program is providing help to Austin residents.
The program offers services such as counseling and case management to individuals ages 14 and up who’ve experienced intimate partner violence.
Counseling and support management is free and confidential. With the help of a therapist, clients can create a safety plan.
Beth Klieger, the program’s clinical manager, said domestic abuse is about power and control.
“One of the most important things we talk about in our program is honoring self-determination,” Klieger said. “It’s to provide support and give them a chance.”
The length of the program varies based on the client’s needs and treatment plan. Klieger said some clients need only six months of treatment, while others take a year or longer.
They also provide free training to community groups within their service area.
For more information about Catholic Charities’ West Side program, call (312)655-7106 or visit their website here.
Maria Prasek, an outreach worker, said if anyone needs help outside the program’s normal business hours, the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline at (877) 863-6338 is available 24 hours a day.
Domestic violence was the focus of a virtual meeting last week held by the 15th District, when local residents discussed what services are available on the West Side.
Everyone is at risk of domestic abuse, said Aileen Bhandari, an assistant state’s attorney in the Cook County State’s attorney office. One in four women and one in seven men aged 18 and older will be victims of domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime.
Because abuse is about power and control, Bhandari said violence is more than physical. Abuse can include coercion and threats, intimidation, isolation, blaming and withholding money, among other forms.
Leaving an abuser can be the most dangerous time for a victim because that threatens a perpetrator’s power. Bhandari urged victims to seek help from the Cook County state’s attorney office victim unit.
If the issue is urgent, call the police, who can make a report that will help a victim obtain an order or protection.
Aniela Tyksinski, a community education coordinator at Sarah’s Inn, emphasized the increased need for anti-violence resources. She said COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing issues such as housing security, technology and internet access, lack of child care, mental health and the closing of the courts.
Some of the services offered by Sarah’s Inn, a nonprofit that serves domestic violence victims in Austin, Little Village and Melrose Park, include partners abuse intervention program (PAIP) for perpetrators of abuse, youth education and domestic violence training.
Services at Sarah’s Inn are free and confidential for everyone regardless of legal status. You can connect with the nonprofit at the website or call the crisis line at (708) 386-4225.