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Your stories: Lisa Vidal gives domestic violence victims back their voices

SPRINGVILLE — When someone has an experience involving domestic abuse, that person often feels lost, hurt physically and emotionally, and as if she or he has no one to turn to for guidance. Domestic Violence Advocate Lisa Vidal and the Erie County Sheriff’s Department are providing help to those people.

Vidal has worked with the department for four years, providing support and guidance to those who recently experienced abuse from a spouse or loved one. Vidal follows up with all domestic abuse-related 911calls.

“First, I let the victim know that I am not an officer; I am a civilian employee. Everything that goes through me is confidential, and I am there to discuss all the different aspects of domestic violence with them,” said Vidal. According to the advocate, every situation that involves domestic violence is different.

“Some individuals are in a situation where the incident was a onetime deal and they feel as though it will never happen again. Other individuals say the abuse is an ongoing problem and they’re ready to get some help,” Vidal said.

The next step in Vidal’s job is referring victims to the services they need, including counseling, social services, food stamps or medical coverage. Vidal can also assist the victims in receiving order of protections against their abusers.

“Often, the victim does not want to pursue charges at the time the sheriff’s office was called. The victim may have been afraid, because there are a lot of dynamics that are involved in domestic violence,” said Vidal. “After I talk with them, if the victim changes their mind and they do want to press charges, I can assist them with the process.”

Even if an abuse victim has not made a call to 911 to report an incident, Vidal still can offer her services to that individual and everything they discuss remains confidential. According to Vidal, on average, it takes a victim of domestic violence seven to eight attempts to leave the abuser.

“Oftentimes with abuse, it’s not just a one-time thing. What the victim might do is call the police and say, have [the abuser] removed for the night, but do not arrest them. Then the individual might say to me, ‘Maybe I should leave them.’ That is considered one attempt at leaving the abuser.”

Vidal and the Erie County Sheriff’s Department are now making it easier for people in need who live in the southern area of Erie County, by setting up weekly office hours in the Springville Village Court.

“I’m essentially setting up an office in Springville every week, to show individuals who are victims of domestic violence, who may or may not have called the sheriffs’ department, that there is help out there for them and they don’t have to travel very far to receive these services,” said Vidal.

On Tuesdays, Vidal will be working out of the Springville Village Court.

If an individual is in need of assistance or guidance through domestic violence and is hesitant to call 911, but cannot make to her office hours, Vidal can be reached by calling her main office at 667-5240.
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