Family Abuse Services
Family Abuse Services provides an array of services to victims and survivors of domestic violence in their on-going community initiative erase domestic violence and re-build lives. The organization combines preventative measures and community education, and has been running for over two decades in Alamance county. Victims can find support through emergency hotline and shelter as well as court advocacy and protective order assistance. FAS’s commitment to long-term support provides stability towards a future free from abuse. The organization helps victims by court accompaniment, support group, visitation center, referrals and transitional housing programs.
Types of Abuse
Family Abuse Services focuses on informing the community that there are many types of abuse that occur, but mainly six basic types:
Physical abuse is the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to, bruises, broken bones, cuts, rope marks, and many others that people who are abused often can’t explain to those asking for fear of more physical pain that will result.
Sexual abuse is non-consensual sexual contact, which can range from unwanted physical touching to rape. Signs of sexual abuse may include bruises, bleeding, unexplained infections, torn clothing, and many more.
Emotional abuse is one of the most common and hardest to detect types of abuse. It is the infliction of anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts. This can be verbal assaults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, harassment, and plenty others. People who are emotionally abused may be emotionally withdrawn, easily upset or agitated, non-communicative, non-responsive, and others depending on person to person.
Threatening abuse is a type of mental and emotional abuse, but is a uniquely powerful element since it also gives victims the opportunity to document and note the overt and outright threats in any civil or criminal legal proceedings. “I’ll kill myself”, “You’ll pay”, “I’ll kill you”, “You’ll never see your kids again” are all common sayings that people who use threatening abuse will manipulate their victims with.
Isolation is another type of abuse that cuts off contact with family, friend, and co-workers. The abused person may not be allowed to leave the house, must always be accompanied by the abuser, or even have the mileage on their car monitored.
Economic abuse is the abuser not allowing the person they are abusing to have a job, being given an allowance, having their expenditures monitored, sabotaging job efforts, causing economic hardship, and many more. The purpose of this abuse is to promote economic dependence of the person being abused. Many variations of these main six types of abuse occur as well.
Our Sister's House Shelter
Our Sister’s House, the shelter connected with Family Abuse Services, provides immediate, safe housing for women and children who have fled from homes due to domestic violence and abuse. They provide basic needs (food, transportation, case management, clothing or other items, since many victims leave their homes with no chance to gather necessary personal belongings) at no cost to the residents. The program also provides a learning program where women can be informed about actions they can take to ensure a safe future for themselves and children. Staff work to develop a written Safety Plan with the client that has the necessary steps to make sure family violence stops at the shelter and it continues to stop after they leave.
Working with Clients
It is important to understand how domestic violence affects the short- and long-term emotional and physical health of those in the presence of abuse. FAS collaborates with many service providers to address emotional and physical trauma, and they will work with the client to address their individualized case. These may include services provided through Legal Aid, the Public Health and Social Services departments, Women’s Resource Center, CrossRoads Sexual Assault Center, Exchange Club’s Family Center, Mental Health providers, and Law Enforcement Agencies. FAS also provides support group services that can connect clients to either individual or group counseling.
Educating the Community
One of Family Abuse Service’s main initiatives is educating the community. School outreach programs teach youth about appropriate versus inappropriate scenarios, resources in abusive situations, dating dynamics, signs of abuse, and warning signs of potentially abusive relationships and situations. FAS’s main program is W.A.V.E. (Wiping out Abuse and Violence through Education). The school outreach program also includes an annual puppet show to every third grade class in Alamance County. FAS also uses Mentors in Violence Prevention Program, or MVP Program, to bring students in touch with deep issues of bystander empathy and involvement in initiatives to promote healthy relationships on many levels. Michela Farnswroth, director of community outreach and education at the Family Abuse Services, explained that “MVP is a national program and we work with Elon students and classes to go into 9th grade to present and facilitate this program. We hope that when these 9th graders witness any kind of violence in a relationship, we can encourage and give them the skills to say ‘That’s not cool.’ It takes leadership to change their behaviors.” This has led to FAS’s collaboration with Elon University and local domestic violence task force members for volunteering with the MVP Program. Other ways FAS educates the community is distribution of publications, brochures, and other information for domestic violence advocates, survivors, and victims.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes
One of the many ways Family Abuse Services raises awareness about the problems of abuse is through the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser. This event is The International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence. It focuses on using the humor of men walking in women’s high heels to raise awareness for abuse. This is a way to get the community talking about the difficult topic of gender relations and sexual violence. Elon University hosted their first Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in 2012. SPARKS brought Walk a Mile in Her Shoes as part of their inclusion of relationship health programs to Elon’s campus. The walk went from Lindner Hall, past Moseley Center, through the Greek Life housing and back to Lindner, cutting between Duke and Carlton. Members of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, who were also a sponsor of the event, accompanied the participants. “A lot of times, with domestic violence, people think, ‘It’s over there. It’s not part of our campus,’ when we know that relationship violence is a huge problem on college campuses,” said Becca Bishopric, coordinator for health promotion, violence prevention and response at Elon. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice has recorded that one in three college relationships will have some form of physical violence.
Committed to Service
Family Abuse Services has zero tolerance of domestic violence. The agency is committed to the prevention and intervention of domestic violence and child abuse throughout the Alamance community. FAS is always looking to help people by providing services such as: 24-Hour Crisis Line, Crisis Counseling, Court Advocacy/Accompaniment, Information and Referral, Emergency Transportation, Support Groups for Women, Structured Children's Program, Emergency Shelter, Direct Services, Community Education, Crisis Nursery, and transitional housing for women and children homeless because of domestic violence. Family Abuse Services is looking to find new, innovative ways to educate the community on domestic violence and helping people break the violence cycle while still being able to maintain future, non-violent, healthy relationships.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, the first step is to take out a protective restraining order at the Family Justice Center located 1950 Martin Street, Burlington NC. Counselors are standing by to assist with paperwork and help people get the help they need.
Phone number: (336-226-5982)
Crisis line: (336-226-5985) Open 24hours/7days a week