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SOS – simply a call for help!

Susan Faler, Community Relations Director

“SOS” is the international call sent out by ship or plane indicating that help or rescue is needed. SOS isn’t an acronym – it stands for nothing at all – except help! Just like the local non-profit organization SOS, Inc., there is not special significance in the letters themselves, just simply – a call for help.

SOS, Inc. is an Emporia-based organization which empowers and advocates for those affected by sexual and domestic violence, child abuse and neglect. We cover six counties: Chase, Coffey, Greenwood, Lyon, Morris and Osage.

Now let’s not fool ourselves into believing abuse doesn’t happen here! In 2014, approximately 1,479 victims used SOS services to help them with their abusive situations. As a matter of fact, 54% of abuse reported to SOS staff occurred in Lyon County, followed by Osage County with 13%. Nearly 79% of the abuse was verbal, emotional or psychological; followed by physical abuse at 46% and stalking at 35%.

Are you curious how SOS helps victims? By offering assistance through four programs – the Child Advocacy Center (CAC), CASA of the Flint Hills, Child Visitation & Exchange Center (CVEC) and Crisis and Outreach Services.

From forensic interview to prosecution, the CAC and its teams, ensure child cases of alleged abuse or neglect are monitored until resolution.  The CAC coordinates a multidisciplinary team that makes decisions about the investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of each case. This team consists of representatives from agencies involved in governmental, judicial, social, law enforcement, health and safety issues. The CAC helps children and their families connect with available community resources they may need. Children can be interviewed in Burlington or Emporia.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Flint Hills provides highly-trained volunteer advocates in Chase and Lyon Counties who advocate for the best interests of abused or neglected children involved in the court system. We currently serve 63 children with 35 volunteer advocates.

The CVEC offers supervised visitation or monitored exchanges in a safe, neutral environment for children and their families. The center offers a friendly atmosphere and focuses on the safety and well-being of the child. The CVEC is open seven days a week. Court, community agencies and self-referrals are accepted. This is the only SOS program which may include a fee for services; however, it is based on a sliding scale according to family income rather than actual cost of providing the service.

Crisis and Outreach Services are available for adult and child victims of domestic and sexual violence, as well as stalking and human trafficking. Our 24-Hour Helpline and Shelter operate through this program. We also have rural outreach advocates located in Chase/Morris, Coffey, Greenwood and Osage Counties.

SOS employs 41 which include program staff and advocates, 24-Hour Helpline operators, security and administrative staff. The following weeks we will publish more in-depth information about each program.

For more information about SOS, visit our website at soskansas.com, “Like” us on Facebook SOS, Inc. and check us out on Twitter – SOSKansas.

We encourage you to educate yourself on the services offered in your community so you too can help victims of violence. Any kind of abuse is unacceptable and EVERYONE deserves to feel safe wherever they are.

*All statistics are for 2014 and recorded by SOS staff.