FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Over the last year, the nation has seen an increase in violence as the pandemic changed the avenues that people could get help or report problems, including Fort Wayne. An area center said it has seen a drastic increase in those looking for help.
“I think we all realized how important our mental health was during this time,” said Gily Osuna, advocate at the Center for Nonviolence in Fort Wayne. “Some people who couldn’t afford those services or didn’t have those services in the community more of a greater challenge.”
The Center for Nonviolence in Fort Wayne has been providing education and support to help end domestic and other forms of violence. Officials say that their goal is to teach people non-violent problem-solving skills to build healthier relationships.
“Everything we do at the center, at our core is for the safety of victims and children, always,” said Dawn Witte, finance and development coordinator at the Center for Nonviolence in Fort Wayne. “That’s what we are here for.”
For the past 40 years, the center has grown. And thanks to the pandemic – that growth has increased significantly.
“Just the amount of referrals that we get from our own clients just by word of mouth has just been an overwhelming amount of success for our business,” Osuna said. “But we do hope to go ahead and reach more people.”
Though the center has been around for 40 years, both say that the center is a hidden resource that the community hasn’t realized it had and that most don’t know it exists until they need it.
The center has free resources for those who can not afford their service. Support groups are offered in English, Spanish and Burmese as well as groups for LQBTQ youth. Victims of domestic violence as well as those who have caused violence in the past.
A prevention program called FACES Nonviolence Leadership is also offered in elementary schools. The center’s youth team goes into schools and works with young people and unearth the social norms that say violence is okay. It’s a combination of teaching students how to make good decisions and help them develop the skills to make their own decisions.
“My idea, my ideal situation would be is that we would no longer have to do intervention services, that the goal is that the prevention services would do it,” Witte said. “So going in and unearthing the social norms and teaching them more than ‘don’t hit your brother’ is key.”
“And statics show that if you are seeing violence whether you are a witness to it or you are suffering from it you are more likely to become an abuser later in life,” Osuna said. “That’s why what Dawn is saying is very important because there are different ways to communicate.”
Osuna added that if the center can’t help you they will refer you to someone who can.
To learn more about the Center for Nonviolence in Fort Wayne click here.