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Press Conference Launching Domestic Violence Awareness Month Focuses on Importance of Advocates
PHOENIX (Oct 1, 2012) – She was battered, tortured and terrorized for more than six years. But Terry (last name withheld) finally found the strength to leave her attacker and prosecute him, thanks in part to the help of a victim advocate that helped her navigate the complex twists and turns of the criminal justice system. Terry’s story and others like hers will be highlighted during a Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) press conference October 4th launching Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The 2012 Domestic Violence Awareness Month Press Conference, “Victim Advocates: Pointing the Way to Safety,” will be held at 1:00 p.m., Thursday, October 4, 2012, at the City of Phoenix Family Advocacy Center, 2120 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix. Along with Terry, speakers will include Avondale Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers, MAG chair; Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton; Dana Martinez, victim advocate at A New Leaf; Lucia Howard, co-chair of the AVON Program for Women and Justice at the O’Connor House; and Barbara Marshall, chair of the MAG Regional Domestic Violence Council. MAG will also unveil a new interactive web map, http://geo.azmag.gov/maps/VictimAdvocates that shows locations of victim advocate services throughout Maricopa County. This is part of a collaboration between MAG and the O’Connor House.
Terry’s ordeal began with a date that quickly evolved into an abusive relationship that lasted four years, followed by two years of stalking, harassment and intimidation. Since arriving in Arizona two years ago, she has had nine addresses trying to hide from her abuser. Terry credits her victim advocate with leading her through a difficult process.
“Victim advocates do what we cannot do at the moment. She helped me get an order of protection. She took me by my hand. She listened to my story. She helped me with the paperwork and sat with me in front of the judge. I couldn’t have done that by myself then. I can do that now,” says Terry, who will relate her story at the press conference. “I am stepping out from behind the shadow of fear with the hopes of helping someone else. It’s never too late,” she says. Terry’s abuser received the maximum sentence of 23 years for felony witness intimidation and felony stalking. (See enclosed DVD for more on Terry’s story.)
MAG Regional Domestic Violence Council Chair Barbara Marshall says 40 percent (1.52 million people) of Valley residents (3.8 million people) report either they, or someone they know, has experienced domestic violence.
“Victim advocates can be the compass that leads abuse victims to safety and healing, helping them find shelter as well as pointing them to financial and legal resources,” said Marshall.
Avondale Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers, who serves as chair of the MAG Regional Council, says that successful prosecutions can result in significant cost savings to municipalities and society by reducing the number of costly repeat police calls, health care costs and lost productivity that domestic violence generates. She credits the MAG Regional Domestic Violence Council for bringing service providers, law enforcement, criminal justice workers, and governments together for change.
“Thanks to the coordinated regional efforts, we are saving lives, time, and money,” said Mayor Rogers.
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