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Social worker helps women avoid abuse



Published: Mon, April 21, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



One woman got run over with her own car by an abusive companion.

& lt;a href=mailto:meade@vindy.com & gt;By PATRICIA MEADE & lt;/a & gt;

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- It can be downright dangerous when love goes bad.

Rose Griffin knows firsthand what happens when victims -- women, mostly -- struggle for normalcy after domestic abuse, mental or physical. It's her job as a social worker for the Youngstown Police Department Crisis Intervention Unit to forge a connection between the victims and those who can offer a solution.

After one year on the job, Griffin said being a go-between is working out as she expected, and she's found satisfaction in helping people.

"They know they have a place to come for support," Griffin said. "A lot of times, they've been so sheltered by an abuser, they don't know what services are available or how to access them."

Most of the cases assigned to Griffin come through domestic violence complaints. While detectives handle criminal charges where applicable, she looks for long-term resolutions for the victims, and sometimes for the abusers.

The list of places that offer help is long, whether the need is drug or alcohol rehabilitation, shelter, counseling, civil protection orders or legal aid.

"I can see more victims getting help quicker," said CIU Detective Sgt. Delphine Baldwin Casey, who pushed for the position Griffin now holds. "My arrest rate is down; that tells me the CIU is working."

Women find courage

Casey credits the women who break the cycle of domestic abuse for the reduction in the number of offenders being arrested over and over again.

"We work on their self-esteem, show them what they can do for themselves and their children," Casey said of the women who receive help.

Women stay in abusive situations primarily because of finances, Griffin said. Regardless of the financial arrangement, though, there's always the fear of getting out and living on their own, she said.

Griffin said she often refers women to shelters, such as Sojourner House, and also finds them housing at the YWCA. Next comes job training.

When relocation is the only safe answer, Griffin tries to get funding through victims' compensation programs. With the help of the Red Cross and Catholic Charities, she helps plot the move.

She has a list of safe houses throughout the country where women can stay as they make their way to their final destination.

One woman's story

Daria Shannon, a retired GM worker, says she endured an abusive relationship for three years and considered leaving town, but stayed for the two grandchildren who live with her. The 53-year-old South Side woman made up her mind that living with abuse wasn't what God intended for her, and she didn't want her grandchildren exposed to it anymore.

Shannon said the first year after her boyfriend moved in was fine, then he started using drugs and quit his job. She had to hide her purse.

He wouldn't come home for days, she said, and the violence escalated -- he even ran her over with her own car. The impact, she said, caused a head injury that required emergency brain surgery.

After he moved out, he violated restraining orders.

"Rose encouraged me, said I could do better. She said he would make me think it was all my fault -- and he did," Shannon recalled. "She said he wasn't doing anything that I wasn't allowing."

Shannon described Griffin as stern but kindhearted.

"Sgt. Casey said I'd lost my own identity. Understanding all that helped me get away from him," Shannon said. "His father beat his mother; she told me that she stayed because of the children. I believe you can walk away with children."

Effects on children

Griffin said she also tries to find workable solutions for men and women who are no longer together but maintain volatile relationships because of their children.

The social worker said she lays out for the parents the short- and long-term effects on children who witness violence. "It opens their eyes," she said.

Griffin's career has included being a caseworker at the Trumbull County Children Services Bureau; SCOPE, a community outreach program for seniors; and Someplace Safe, a shelter for those who suffer abuse and their dependents.

& lt;a href=mailto:meade@vindy.com & gt;meade@vindy.com & lt;/a & gt;




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