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What is Rural Advocacy?

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What is Rural Advocacy?

Many people are familiar with the Watertown Resource Center's work with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  What some may not know is that those services are available not only in Watertown but through the Rural Advocacy Program in their own home community.  The Watertown Resource Center provides services to victims in the counties of Clark, Codington, Deuel, Grant and Hamlin.  Providing these services is made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women.  The grant allows domestic violence shelters across South Dakota and the entire nation to employ a Rural Advocate to provide services in rural communities within their coverage area.  In December 2011 I joined the Watertown Resource Center team as the Rural Advocate.  I am a native of the Watertown area growing up near Bemis and continue to reside in that area.  I recently graduated from South Dakota State University with a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Human Development.  My ultimate goal when completing my graduate degree was to return to my community and serve its citizens. As the Rural Advocate for the Watertown Resource Center, I am able to achieve this goal and it honors me to do so.

One goal of the Rural Advocacy Program is to develop a network of support for victims and their families.  To achieve this, satellite offices will be established from which I can work together with law enforcement, the criminal justice system, faith-based organizations, concerned citizens, and victims to develop safer and healthier communities. I have already had the wonderful opportunity to meet with some local officials and look forward to meeting more community leaders and working together to serve the citizens of our area. Services are available to men, women or children that have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault and are free of charge.  Victim services include assistance with protection orders, emergency shelter, safety planning, and various other resources and referrals.  Information on Watertown Resource Center’s Family Visitation Center is also available.  The Family Visitation Center provides a safe, child-friendly environment in which children and families can visit each other and become reacquainted with one another. 

Another piece of the Rural Advocacy Program is to increase awareness in order to enhance support domestic violence and sexual assault victims receive from their home communities.  Educational presentations on topics such as domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence are available free of charge in each of the communities the Watertown Resource Center serves. In the upcoming months I look forward to getting to know more about your community and how we can work together for a safer, healthier and happier community.  If you require services or would like to know how you can help please call the Watertown Resource Center at 886-4300 or go to www.watertownresourcecenter.com.  Look for details on upcoming events in April: observing Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month!

Written by:  Angie Meseberg

Rural Advocate