Advocates seek 'voices' for focus group

Statistics can only tell half the story.

When assessing the Yampa Valley's needs for helping families impacted by domestic violence, the best source of information is family members themselves, said Pat Tessmer, executive director of Advocates -- Crisis Support Services.

"We collect statistics from law enforcement, the courts, the district attorneys," Tessmer said. "But, you can't just do statistics. It's really important to have those voices of the people you need to serve. ... Their personal experiences and information are critical to our project.

"We'll look at what the needs are for people who have visitation and custody issues and what it would take to improve (their safety)," she added.

Tessmer and other Advocates representatives are trying to build interest to host a focus group in September on the Yampa Valley's needs for supervised visitations and safe places for exchanging children.

The focus group falls in line with Advocates participation in Safe Havens, a national project that focuses on the safety of victims of battering and their children as it relates to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and child abuse.

The focus group is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 11. The time and place of the meeting is only available by contacting the Advocates group.

"That's the best idea, safety-wise," Tessmer said.

Although some find it difficult to share painful experiences in a group setting, Tessmer said a group of participants in 2004 expressed a "desire and gratitude for the opportunity to participate and have their voices heard."

The city of Craig, Advocates in Moffat County and Advocates Against Battering and Abuse of Routt County are teaming up to host the focus group.

For more information about the focus group, call Pat Tessmer at 824-9709. Refreshments, child care and transportation if necessary, will be provided.

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