By Stacey Riley
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.
How does that look compared to the 2020 census data for the lower six counties of Mississippi? The adult population (over age 18) of Jackson, Harrison, Hancock, Pearl River, Stone and George counties is 499,347. Of that number, 193,932 are women and 190,994 are men. If we apply the DOJ statistic, 64,644 women and 47,748 men will be or have been abused by an intimate partner. This is an astonishing number.
The statistical information from the Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence can be alarming, but it pales in comparison to the total number of individuals from our community who need our help. What can we do to ensure we can fully support the 112,000-plus individuals who have been abused in our community?
Since last October, the Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence has made leaps and bounds toward simplifying services for survivors of interpersonal violence (domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking) and ensuring they are as accessible as possible. This month, the Center opened a community-based resource center that will act as a one-stop shop for anyone needing immediate assistance to address the overall impact of any trauma experienced. This program is located at 213 Porter Ave., Biloxi, and is open for walk-ins anytime Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. As always, the Center’s shelter program in Biloxi and Pascagoula is available for help 24-7.
We recognize that victims face great barriers, and any efforts that we and our community can make to remove such obstacles are valuable and necessary to respond to survivors’ needs fully and comprehensively. Anyone in our community who requires immediate assistance can visit our community-based service center and immediately meet with a counselor and/or advocate who is equipped with the resources necessary to respond in a holistic manner. The Center has counselors, case managers, advocates, legal advocates and attorneys who are on standby to offer wraparound services to anyone needing assistance. Additionally, this facility will provide access to local law enforcement and court officials to assist in legal matters.
Additionally, this service center will offer a resource library that provides access to self-help materials, computer access, access to offerings by other community resources, training opportunities and a safe space to share experiences with other survivors.
All services provided by the Center are trauma informed and survivor lead. We are always open to any feedback available by anyone who has been impacted by interpersonal violence.
Stacey Riley is the chief executive officer of the Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence. Reach her at (228) 436-3809.