North Star spreads word of firm’s services

By Kathryn Rice

North Star Advocacy Center, located at 1220 East Second, Maryville, continues to do outreach to spread the word of the services it has available for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the five county Northwest Missouri area.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The US Department of Justice estimates 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year.

Recently, Linda Mattson, director, and Wyatt Williams, victim advocate, spent time with Northwest Technical School’s family living and parenthood class, taught by Marcy Behrens. On day one, the duo went over healthy and unhealthy relationship categories.

Day two, the subject was “In Your Shoes” where the students were walked through scenarios and then they would decide what to do.

On the third day, Williams returned to wrap up the presentation and answer students’ questions. This presentation was well received and the students asked a lot of questions including what schooling was needed to become a victim advocate.

“He was a really good resource for them,” Behrens said. “It helps the kids to know what is available for assistance.”

North Star has been presenting to this NTS class for several years.

“The class has freshmen to seniors,” Behrens said. “They are new at relationships and the presentation teaches about what to look for in a healthy relationship. It helps them reflect on current relationships. (It) gives an idea what to look for and look at their own behavior to determine what is healthy or not.”

The students can do a community service project with North Star. The Region 1 FCCLA chose North Star as the community service recipient for its fundraising.

About the presentation, Maryville High School Freshman Mya Aley said, “I know if someone was in a situation or if I was in a situation, I would know where to go. I’d be happy if they came back to our class because they made it interactive instead of just talking about it. Wyatt answered my questions and I got to learn more about it.”

MHS Senior Eowyn Otto has seen the presentation three times, once in the Northwest Missouri State University Upward Bound class. She said with Williams’ presentation, it gave her a different perspective.

“When you think of abuse or neglect, I think of men because they’re supposed to be the strong one,” Otto said. “I realize that it’s not just men abusing women, but women abusing men.

“It made me realize what a healthy relationship is and what an unhealthy relationship is. I’ve seen people in relationships and it’s made me realize, hey, that’s an unhealthy relationship,” Otto said.

Williams has worked as a victim advocate at North Star for seven months. He has always been interested in helping people but had felt disconnected in larger corporate settings where people were helped by logistics and moving resources and not on a one-on-one personal basis.

By being a victim advocate, he is helping people, one-on-one, who walk through the door on possibly the worst day of their lives.

“Later you realize, you have helped them on the way to recovery,” Williams said.

Williams has made 12 to 15 school presentations in the five county area of Atchison, Holt, Nodaway, Worth and Gentry counties where North Star services are offered. North Star will do presentations to anyone who asks, whether schools, churches, clergy groups and organizations.

He said his being at presentations backs up his co-workers when they say, yes, men can be abused and he can advocate for males to get involved in victim advocacy to disabuse myths.

After North Star’s school presentations, there has been a higher rate of disclosures, “meaning a child saw you present, they knew who to call, ‘I know you from school.’ They know we’re a resource that they can access.”

Williams has found grades eighth through sophomore students don’t know where to report. By giving the presentations, he hopes that the students will come forward to report.

The center’s shelter is open at full capacity and is in need of volunteers. Volunteers work the hot line, cover the shelter and assist with donations. Volunteers are the primary workforce on large community events such as walks, donations and drives. To become a volunteer, call North Star Advocacy Center for more information. A background check is necessary.

North Star Advocacy Center’s phone number is 660.562.2320. The toll free crisis line is 866.382.7867.