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Safety is the primary focus of the Center of Protective Environment for adults trying to leave an abusive relationship.

In Alamogordo, C.O.P.E. was started in 1980 as a nonprofit organization to address problems of family and relationship violence. It was officially incorporated in 1983.

"We have a variety of services," C.O.P.E. executive director Kay Gomolak said. "We have the emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children for up to 90 days."

 

Safety is the primary focus of the Center of Protective Environment for adults trying to leave an abusive relationship.

In Alamogordo, C.O.P.E. was started in 1980 as a nonprofit organization to address problems of family and relationship violence. It was officially incorporated in 1983.

"We have a variety of services," C.O.P.E. executive director Kay Gomolak said. "We have the emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children for up to 90 days."

The C.O.P.E. shelter has a capacity to house 25 adults and their children. "It could be male or female victims," Gomolak said. "Our numbers are really small for male victims. With the new facility, it's more separate because the bathrooms are separated."

C.O.P.E. offers advocacy services that link people experiencing family violence to legal, housing and employment services, as well as assistance in filing orders of protection and other community resources.

 

They have individual and group counseling services addressing issues of family and relationship violence for victims, perpetrators and their children.

C.O.P.E. also offers outreach and education services to schools, churches, civic organizations, businesses, law enforcement, medical and legal professionals.

Community education and outreach coordinator Perry Lawson said C.O.P.E. can always reach out to help victims of domestic violence.

"We always have other options to help a person," Lawson said. "We will get someone safe. We've got connections through .different groups. We can get them to a shelter in New Mexico or another state."

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 10 percent of violent crimes in 2003 nationally were committed by the victim's intimate partner, with 19 percent of women being victimized by intimate partners at a greater rate than the three percent of male domestic violence victims in 2003.

"We can provide transportation, medical care or eye glasses," Gomolak said. "We can also find housing for their pets."

Lawson said pets have been used by abusers to control victims. "A pet is part of the family," he said. "Victims have turned to the family pet for comfort. It has helped kids cope with abuse and leaving their home."

Lawson said Domestic Violence Awareness Month is observed in October. "It's not seasonal," he said. "Domestic violence is year round. We offer also a batterer's intervention program."

 

Gomolak said victims don't have to stay at the shelter to receive C.O.P.E.'s services. "We have people who wish to live with their parents," she said. "We have people who come to get our other services."

Gomolak said people don't exactly know what domestic violence encompasses.

"A victim would not knowingly walk into a violent relationship," she said. "Victims have to realize domestic violence is not their fault. It's a sort of insidious thing. All of a sudden, a person is afraid for their safety."

For more information about domestic violence, contact C.O.P.E. at 434-3622 or the Crime Victims' Advocate office at 437-3640.

 

By DUANE BARBATI STAFF WRITER

Contact Duane Barbati at dbarbati@alamogordonews.com

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