An end of Mental Health Awareness Month reminder
Community Support Center has options for all
Around 2018, the Women’s Resource Center in Dillion, changed its name to the Community Support Center (CSC). Sherry Paddie, lead advocate for CSC, has worked there for a little over a year now and finds that the community does not completely understand that it is still the same people offering the same services, with just a broader focus.
CSC is an advocacy program for domestic violence and sexual assault victims. The vision statement focuses on creating a society where all individuals have the right to live free from violence and the mission statement focuses on empowering all people by attending to the social and cultural needs of anyone impacted by sexual or social violence.
Empowerment is a keyword CSC, and Paddie recognized that it is a big buzzword right now.
“What empowerment looks like is not just holding somebody up until they’re on their feet again but includes removing the barriers and providing information and resources for them to take control of their life again,” she explained. For CSC, empowerment is provided by three pillars—crisis intervention, support and advocacy services and prevention and awareness.
Paddie said that historically, crisis intervention is the most recognized service of advocacy-based programs, and thus the most utilized. When a person is in immediate crisis, advocates drop everything to support that person in whatever way needed—listening, providing shelter services, connecting with medical services or law enforcement. The other pillars strive to support survivors for their lives outside the immediate moment of violence.
Despite being located in Dillon, CSC has options for those in Madison County, too.
With Covid under better control, Paddie mentioned they are considering the best way to begin sending advocates back into the Madison County community, seeing what residents need from them there. Until then, Zoom meetings with CSC advocates are an option and the 24-hour hotline is open to anyone. Paddie said there must be something good happening with their Google presence, as they occasionally get calls from out of state and spend time finding the right resources for someone in Washington state, for example.
If feeling inspired by other content related to Mental Health Awareness Month (the month of May), CSC’s need currently is in the form of hotline volunteers. Paddie also serves as the volunteer coordinator and said if anyone is interested in the position, they can contact her. Essentially, a hotline volunteer goes through a two-hour domestic violence and sexual assault training complete with statistics and tips on active listening and then are scheduled for shifts from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next day.
“It sounds intense but it’s really not,” Paddie reassured. In her year-plus employment, she’s only had a couple of hotline calls per night, and typically volunteers only get two or three in a month. Paddie said it is not a super busy volunteer position, but it is important. Trainings for hotline volunteers will be conducted via Zoom for now.
In many cases, domestic and sexual violence can be viewed as a ‘not in my backyard’ kind of topic. Especially in close-knit communities where everyone at some point knows everyone, it is a hard thing to swallow if it comes up.
Paddie brought up types of almost discreet abuse, things that come from an innocent place but can negatively impact a person more than expected. Economic abuse, she explained, starts from the innocent believe that a man is in charge of finances and then goes to the extreme—the male not letting their partner have any financial control at all.
“And that’s what violence is,” Paddie said. “It’s oppression where one person has power over another and that comes in any form.”
A big part of CSC’s goal is to make their vision and mission and pillars more approachable to all ages and genders, evident in the name change.
“We want to make it clear that it’s not just women who are in need of support,” Paddie said. Men experience violence, too, and CSC looks to be an aid for anyone in a state of fear, violence or abuse. As another form of volunteerism, the advocate center is always in need of men to serve as mentors.
Paddie hopes people will begin to feel more comfortable with CSC as it becomes more visible, and as people see them less as activists, in a sense, and more as people who just want to make their communities better places to live.
Call Paddie at 406-683-6106 to inquire about volunteer opportunities. The CSC hotline can be reached at 1-800-253-9811.