Visit with the Iowa Tribe Victim Services Unit

 Staff from left to right: Virginia Collins - Victims Services Director, Kayla Colon - Tribal Sexual Assault Advocate, Jennifer Childers - Transitional Housing Victim Advocate, Harley Lenox - Victims Services Unit Case Aide, Kent Tehauno - Victims Services Unit Project Aide

Staff from left to right: Virginia Collins - Victims Services Director, Kayla Colon - Tribal Sexual Assault Advocate, Jennifer Childers - Transitional Housing Victim Advocate, Harley Lenox - Victims Services Unit Case Aide, Kent Tehauno - Victims Services Unit Project Aide

 

The NAAV recently made the trip to Perkins, Oklahoma to visit the Iowa Tribe. Our main focus was meeting with the Iowa Tribe Victim Services Unit, but before we got down to business, we made a detour to the Grey Snow Eagle House eagle rehabilitation center. To anyone that hasn't visited yet, the NAAV highly recommends seeing these beautiful and dangerous raptors up close.

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We got our own private tour to learn about how the facility is caring for these sacred birds. Some are able to reach independence after healing from an accident, while others have been so badly injured that they need constant and long term care. We would also like to note that each one of these birds of prey had their own personality and quirks. It was funny to see how some of the permanent residents of the center would perk up when they heard their name being called out.

After our trip to see the eagles, we met with the wonderful staff of the Iowa Tribe Victim Services Unit. Victim Services Unit Director, Virginia Collins, was there to greet us and speak with us about the challenges and achievements of the program.

Like many other domestic violence and sexual assault programs in Oklahoma, the Victim Services Unit does have trials that they must overcome to reach their community. Virginia explained to us that one of the biggest challenges for their program is that many of the victims of abuse are so widely spread out in rural areas. The wide open plains of Oklahoma are beautiful, but they sure are wide and open.

But, we shouldn’t worry because this program has got it covered. Literally. They have their own means of transportation and go out of their way to ensure survivors can live their life free from violence.

We were also able to speak with Virginia about the emergency 24 Hour Hopeline: 1-855-ITO-HOPE. We were surprised to learn that such a small staff operates it. Each of the knowledgeable and caring staff members of the program rotates being in charge of answering the Hopeline. This is something we hadn’t really thought about. Being on call all the time is a big task for such a small program. It just goes to show how dedicated Oklahoma tribal domestic violence advocates can be.

It was apparent that both of these Iowa Tribe programs work tremendously hard to improve the lives of those that depend on them. The NAAV would like to have these types of visits with all 24 of Oklahoma's tribal domestic violence and sexual assault programs. Our goal is to see the cultures behind the tribe, and recognize and celebrate the differences, as well as honoring the accomplishments of the domestic violence and sexual assault programs.

Our Communications Specialist, Raven Word, took photos and video of the experience and will be posting a video about the tribal program to our website and social media channels very soon.

If you know anyone that could use help from the Iowa Tribe Victim Services Unit, please contact them through their office phone: 405-547-4234 or the 24 Hour Hopeline number: 1-855-ITO-HOPE (1-855-486-4673).

Check out some of the pictures we took below: