I had the privilege of meeting with and interviewing Kelly Franklin, MSW, Outreach Director of the Betty Griffin House.
Betty Griffin House is a community based, private, non-profit organization that provides numerous services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, ranging from shelter services to confidential counseling to legal advocacy with many other support services available. Betty Griffin House is located in St Augustine and serves all of St Johns County, FL residents. Click here for BGH services. The organization was formed in 1990 by a group of community members who recognized the needs of the community.
Kelly gave me a tour of the facility and I met the staff, who are a dedicated group of wonderful people!
Kelly, thank you for agreeing to an interview. I really appreciate you taking the time to discuss Betty Griffin House. I’ve added the link to the complete list of services that the organization offers. It is a very impressive list!
Could you explain the process by which a victim goes through when contacting Betty Griffin House?
Our hotline is available 24/7. It is answered by an advocate that is certified in domestic and sexual abuse advocacy and is available to provide confidential crisis counseling, information and referral, and safety planning. The advocate will discuss options to the person being abused and offer our services as well as community assistance.
Betty Griffin House offers a wide variety of services. About how many people are helped by the organization throughout the year?
Last year, we served 3,500 adults and children through shelter, outreach and our hotline services. We also dedicate services to prevention, so we are hopeful that we have helped thousands more.
Does Betty Griffin House use education as part of the plan to stop domestic violence? Yes, we have two advocates dedicated to community education and two that are dedicated to awareness and development. However, all of our advocates educate and work toward stopping domestic and sexual abuse in our community. Last year, we held over 600 events including awareness events, community presentations, and primary presentations to students. Anyone interested in having us share information on our services or the dynamics of domestic and sexual abuse can send me a request by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
So many people treat domestic violence as a ‘family issue’ instead of a crime. What is your response to the often heard question: “Why does she stay?”
Domestic and Sexual Abuse is everyone’s issue. Everyone can work to stop it, but instead we often blame the victim and think that they have a choice to just leave. It is important to realize when we ask questions of the victim’s behavior we really make the abusive person’s actions invisible. We are saying the victim is responsible for the abuse and the victim is never the cause of the abuse. We need to hold abusive individuals accountable. It is not an anger issue, it is not a mental health or substance abuse issue. Domestic and Sexual abuse is about power and control over another person. It is preventable if we concentrate on holding the abusive person accountable and focus on educating our children on healthy relationships.
This is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Is teen dating violence a growing problem?
Yes, it is growing and as we advance in technology we advance in ways to continue abuse. It is extremely important for parents to talk to teens. Teens often view jealousy in relationships as a way to show love and concern. However, it can turn into controlling and abusive behavior quickly. Even if you are not a parent, you may know a teen and it important to discuss dating violence with them or link them to resources.
Some websites with resources are:
What motivated you to become involved with Betty Griffin House?
I decided to become a social worker to do my best to make the world a better place for my children. I became involved with Betty Griffin House when a professor suggested I intern with them. There is so much work to make a social change that I could not leave. Plus, Joyce Mahr, our executive director, the advocates and volunteers make it real easy to want to stay. Our vision statement is Peace at home…then the world. These are words that inspire me to inspire others and keep me motivated.
Is it hard to deal with the issue of domestic violence daily?
It is very difficult work. It is difficult to know that so many people in the community are abused. They are abused verbally, financially, emotionally, physically and raped. It is difficult to see so many barriers to victims. A big part of our advocacy is breaking down barriers.
It is not only hard to work daily on the issues of abuse. It can be incredibly rewarding to work with the adults and children that we serve. They are so brave and I have learned so much from them over the years. I also am amazed by the community support and partnerships that we have in St. Johns County. There is no way the Betty Griffin House could do this alone and we are thankful that more and more people are getting involved.
What would you like to have readers take away from this interview?
We can end Domestic and Sexual Abuse in our community and the world. It is a learned behavior about power and control. We can educate our children to be respectful and be a role model for healthy relationships. Please talk about it. The more we talk about it, the sooner a social change will happen. Support us with your donations, time, and your voice!
Kelly, thank you for your responses and for dedicating your life to helping other people!
Betty Griffin relies on government grants, private financial donations, household and clothing donations, their thrift shops and events to fund the organization. We can help by contributing financial donations and by donating furniture, clothing, and other household goods to Betty Griffin House. Shopping at the thrift stores is another way to support Betty Griffin House.
Their next big fundraiser is their 5K Run & Walk on Saturday, April 12th, 2014. Let’s do it! www.bettygriffinhouse5k.org
To contact Betty Griffin House: For emergencies please call the hotline at 904-824-1555, or the outreach services at 904-808-8544. The website is www.bettygriffinhouse.org.
I am amazed by all that the Betty Griffin House does. I believe in what Kelly says when she discusses community education and primary prevention as being key to stopping domestic violence. It is going to be a long process, with education and awareness as the drivers of the movement. Cultural change, the way we respect one another, and changes in attitudes will play a role in ending domestic violence.
Statistics show that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.*
Betty Griffin House’s motto is:
It Takes A Community to end Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Be Part of the Solution
Will you be part of the solution to end domestic violence and sexual assault in your community?
*Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy. National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey.” (2000)