InterAct of Wake County
Providing Safety and Rebuilding Lives
By Carol Wills
Photos courtesy of Interact of Wake County
Domestic abuse is something we don’t like to think about. We don’t want to even imagine such a thing happening to someone we love – much less, to us. But it’s a fact that domestic abuse is a problem that isn’t going away. It is estimated that one in three women living in Wake County will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Since the opening of InterAct’s Family Safety and Empowerment Center in 2009, the demand for its services has tripled.
InterAct is a private, non-profit agency whose mission is dedicated to ending the cycle of domestic and sexual violence in Wake County. InterAct saves lives, rebuilds lives, and secures safer futures for victims and their families.
In 2009, Interact opened a Family Safety & Empowerment Center where families struggling with abuse can come and receive InterAct’s crisis intervention services. Last year, InterAct served nearly 62,000 men, women and children – 8,800 of whom were direct victims of domestic and/or sexual violence.
Christina Brewer, who is the Associate Director of Communications, focuses on fundraising and marketing/communications. She serves as a liaison for donors, the media and the community at large.
“Nearly 13 years ago, I had the privilege of becoming involved with InterAct,” says Brewer. “Growing up in a small town and having been somewhat sheltered, I quickly realized that violence against women thrives in an environment of fear and isolation. I learned that this sort of violence was far more common than I had realized.”
“No one knew what happened in our home behind closed doors,” said one recent InterAct client. “No one knew how our two little boys hid under their beds when Daddy started yelling. I knew I had to leave for their sake. I called InterAct and got out. I know that with InterAct’s help, I changed the future for my boys.”
How does InterAct save lives? By maintaining three 24-hour crisis lines and an emergency shelter for victims and survivors of violence who need immediate access to safety. Along with crisis counseling by phone, victims are assisted in planning for their immediate safety and are introduced to InterAct’s seamless continuum of care. InterAct’s eight-week residential program allows each individual to develop a safety plan. Nationally, approximately 60 percent of all shelter residents return to their abusers; however, more than 90% of InterAct’s residents do not return.
InterAct has a full-time presence in each of Wake County’s two domestic violence courtrooms. Court advocates guide victims through the complicated legal process, providing safety planning. Also at InterAct, victims can complete and electronically file an order of protection, have the case heard before a judge via video conference and receive a temporary order of protection.
In addition, InterAct maintains a Solace Center, North Carolina’s first community-based sexual assault forensic examination center, which provides victims with specialized nursing care, forensic evidence collection and InterAct’s continuum of services – all under one roof.
Brewer says, “My hope is that someday domestic violence and sexual assault will no longer be dark, shameful secrets. I believe all victims should have the ability to break free from fear and isolation and get the help they need. All victims deserve protection and justice, because protecting our families, friends, neighbors and strangers – regardless of their race, immigration status or sexuality – is the right thing to do.”
InterAct’s services are not just a nicety. They are a necessity. And you can help by either volunteering your time or donating to the cause. Anna, a crisis line volunteer, says what she finds most meaningful about volunteering with InterAct is being there for someone during an urgent time of need. “Sometimes the simplest things – a reassuring voice, an expression of empathy, or an open ear – can make a life-saving difference for someone in crisis. I’m honored to be a part of such an impactful organization,” she says.
InterAct offers many program and special project volunteer opportunities. All interested volunteers must attend one of the information sessions for more information and to receive an application. You can find out more about this process on InterAct’s website: interactofwake.org.
If you are not able to volunteer, you can still support InterAct’s much-needed programs by donating funds to help them continue to offer comprehensive services that can make a life-or-death difference for families fleeing violence. Ensuring the sustainability of those services is a critical safety priority for our entire community.
Please help families rebuild violence-free home – and survive and thrive. You may donate through the website (interactofwake.org) or by calling 919.828.7501.