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Lakes Crisis and Resource Center is here to help

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Last year, a man in Detroit Lakes left work after arguing with his boss. He stopped for a few drinks then drove home in a bad mood. When he found his wife outside caring for the children instead of making dinner, he flew into a rage. As the children watched in horror, he threw his wife on the ground, kicked her, and when she tried to get up, twisted and fractured her arm. It was the fifth such attack in three months.

A neighbor saw the commotion and called the police, who arrived immediately, witnessed the woman's injuries, and arrested the husband. The officers gave the victim a resource card listing a place to go for victim services and called an ambulance that took her to the hospital. When the victim returned home, she decided -- for the first time -- to seek help.

The next day the victim visited a local domestic violence center, she spoke with a victim advocate, decided to press charges against her husband, went to court to seek a civil protection order, and learned that she and her children can live healthier and safer lives. The victim advocate helped her obtain the order, accompanied her to the court proceedings against her husband, arranged for counseling for her and the children, and helped her find a part-time job. The advocate also helped her enroll in the state's victim notification system so she would know the instant that her husband was released from jail. For the first time, she and her children were on the road to a safer life.

Twenty-five years ago, most of the services that helped this victim were in short supply. No one helped victims negotiate the court system, find services, or stay safe. Then in 1984, in response to a report from President Reagan's Task Force on Victims of Crime, Congress passed the landmark Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). VOCA established the Crime Victims Fund -- supported by fines from offenders rather than taxpayers -- to fund crime victim compensation, victim services, and training for service providers. In 2006, VOCA grants helped fund more than 4,400 public and nonprofit agencies serving almost 4 million victims throughout the country.

For local domestic violence victims, VOCA opened the door to safety and hope. VOCA helped fund the resource cards the police officer gave her and the victim advocate who counseled her. Every year, for the victim and millions like her, VOCA offers the tools to build a better life.

The Lakes Crisis and Resource Center in Detroit Lakes is one of the thousands of agencies that are, in part, funded through VOCA. In 2008, LCRC helped bring hope and healing to 792 crime victims. This year, LCRC is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Victims of Crime Act during National Crime Victims' Rights Week (April 26 to May 2, 2009). The theme, "25 Years of Rebuilding Lives: Celebrating the Victims of Crime Act," spotlights the network of lifelines VOCA has extended through our nation. If you, or anyone you know, is a victim of a crime, the Lakes Crisis and Resource Center can help. Please call 847-7446, toll free 1-877-754-9683, or visit our website at www.lakescrisis.com.

(Editor's Note: The domestic violence case described above is a fictional "composite" drawn from many actual domestic violence cases.)

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