Taking the First Step Towards a Community Free of Violence
First Step non-profit organization
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - The News Channel 6 City Guide is a segment that shines a spotlight on local businesses, events, and nonprofits in your communities. In this episode, we’re highlighting First Step. It is an organization that advocates for domestic violence survivors, while promoting safe and healthy family behavior through education, awareness and supportive services. Here you can see how to take the first step towards a community free of violence.
“First Step is a non-profit organization that has been serving Wichita Falls and the surrounding areas for over 40 years,” Executive Director at First Step, Michelle Turnbow said. “We have services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.”
They do awareness programs, training around the community, shelter, safe house, counseling, support groups, legal advocacy and case management. “We have a lot of things that go in as far as empowerment in helping someone who has gone through sexual assault or domestic violence to rebuild themselves, " Turnbow said.
One out of three women is a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. “We’re not here to judge you. This is a different world you’re walking into, we are here to believe what you’re saying, and support you and advocate for you,” Turnbow said. “There’s a whole lot that First Step has done for this community.”
Domestic violence cases increase was huge during COVID, while people had to stay at home during the pandemic. First Step stayed open during the pandemic to help all the victims who needed support, specially those experiencing an unsafe environment at home.
“I am a survivor, and I know seeing my own life and my children’s life, that it’s going to be amazing that there are resources for my kids and as long as the other kids will be able to see that there’s hope and there’s healing, and that’s one of the most beautiful things I think there is,” Stacey Lingbeek, Coordinator at First Step said.
BIP stands for Batterers Intervention and Prevention Program, and it’s a new program they’re implementing through First Step to help breaking the cycle of abuse. “We are going to be holding the offenders accountable to the abuse and battering,” Lingbeek said. “We help them with the tools to have healthy relationships, so not only we’re helping the batterers themselves but we’re helping the victims and the children as well.”
There’s a lot of abuse that can happen through financial abuse and emotional abuse, even before it gets to the physical abuse and escalates to physical violence.
“Domestic violence does not discriminate - it is in all walks of life, all socio-economic groups, and all races, genders and sexual orientation - we see it everywhere,” Patti Mallow, Program Director at First Step said. “You have the right to be happy and be fulfilled in your life.”
If you or someone in your life needs support, you can take the first step by going to FirstStep.org or call their 24/7 Hotline at 1-800-658-2683 and talk to an advocate at First Step.
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