Interview with a Paint It Purple Beneficiary: Women’s Center of East Texas, USA

The goal of all Paint It Purple cupcake bake sales and fundraising parties is to raise money and awareness of agencies working to end VAW in their local communties. In 2013, our Paint It Purple anti-VAW nonprofit partner is the Women’s Center of East . Today’s interview features Brooke Barton who is the Nonresidential Projects Director for the Women’s Center of East Texas

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Brooke BartonAt the Women’s Center of East Texas, Brooke Barton works toward improving the programs and services provided to survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Gregg, Harrison, Marion, Rusk, Upshur and Panola counties.  Since 2005, she has specialized in providing services, and facilitating service delivery, to victims of sexual violence.  Brooke began working with people being prostituted in 2009 and since being introduced to this cruel and violent world she has dedicated a large part of her personal and professional time eradicating human trafficking through working with anti-trafficking teams, taskforces and volunteering for two separate agencies focusing specifically on domestic minor sex trafficking.  She holds a B.S. in Psychology from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. 

1. Tell us about Women’s Center of East Texas and the work that you do to stop Violence Against Women.

Group Shot Sept13

The WCET team

For over 30 years The Women’s Center of East Texas has served battered victims, their witnessing children, and victims of sexual assault.  We have responded to tens of thousands of calls for help, and there is so much more to be done.  We spend our days exploring resources and options with victims, providing them necessary support, enhancing their safety and creating community change with victims of domestic and sexual violence by providing: emergency shelter, outreach support, legal support and advocacy, crisis hotline services, information and referrals, community education, Spanish speaking services, HOPE’S Closet and a 24 hour hotline.

2. What are the unique challenges of working to stop Violence Against Women (including Domestic Violence) in your community/area?

Transportation always seems to be a huge barrier due to the vast amount of rural areas in our service area, therefore some victims find it hard to leave their abusive relationship or find a way to seek services.  Closely following the hurdle of transportation is affordable and adequate housing for this population.  Once a victim is able to escape an abusive relationship they are limited on their options for housing.  We have found that some of the affordable houses are in areas that their safety would be in just as much jeopardy as staying in the relationship they left.

3. Tell us about some of your successful efforts and campaigns over the years and how they work to prevent/intervene/stop violence against women in your community area.

Once a week a spokesperson from our agency works with youth in Gregg County that have been identified as “at risk” and assigned to an alternative campus at Longview Independent School District.  We are also in the schools three days a week in Upshur County discussing healthy dating relationships and healthy sexuality.  Two different school districts in Rusk County have implemented the Coaching Boys into Men program.  In Gregg County we speak weekly in a mandatory program at a faith based shelter for homeless men working toward their self-sufficiency.  Each program is designed to build toward a community project/campaign development to raise awareness in our communities.  Currently we have nine billboards in all six of our counties raising awareness.

4. Why did Women’s Center of East Texas decide to take part in “Paint It Purple” this year?

The Women’s Center of East Texas is always thinking outside the box to find unlikely partners to help raise awareness in our communities.  We believe everyone in our community needs to play a role in ending violence.  Working with La Cabane de Dessert has created a safe place to talk about difficult problems.

5. How can we encourage people to take an interest in and step up to help stop violence against women and what sort of help does Women’s Center of East Texas need to keep your efforts going?

Through our awareness efforts and speaking engagements we provide participants opportunities to develop campaigns and projects that speak to their peer group.

WCET has amazing community support in all six of our counties.  One thing we could use more of to keep our efforts going to end violence in our communities is more men actively taking a stand to end this thoughtless crime.

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