Filling the gap: 2 domestic violence/sexual assault centers open in rural Kansas

WELLINGTON, Kan. (KSNW) – Two new domestic violence and sexual assault resource centers have opened in South Central Kansas.

“We are hoping that even if people don’t want to report, they are welcome to reach out to us for our services. Our services are free. They are confidential and we just want to help in any way that we can and make people more comfortable about coming forward and talking about these issues,” said Supervisor Kami Dobbs.

Kami Dobbs works for the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center. She’s seen first hand what domestic violence and sexual assault victims go through.

“It’s so hard to imagine what someone is going through daily, day in and day out, when there is abuse or sexual violence happening in their lives,” Dobbs said.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said 23,004 domestic violence and 1,146 rapes were reported in the state in 2016.

“People are usually hesitant to reach out. Domestic violence and sexual violence, as we know, are very under reported crimes. We know what the stats say for the areas. We know what gets reported, but there is so much that’s not reported and that’s the scary part,” Dobbs said.

Dobbs said it’s also scary when victims don’t have a anywhere to go. In August of 2016, Safe Homes Inc., the only domestic violence and sexual assault shelter in south central Kansas closed forcing victims to travel to Wichita or call a hotline to receive services.

“It’s like a cold call, picking up the phone and having no idea who is on the other end and just telling somebody that you have never even laid eyes on your personal business,” she said.

Dobbs said she noticed the need for services in the area like many other agencies around the state. This week, that need was fulfilled. Dobbs became the supervisor of two newly opened domestic violence and sexual assault resource centers in Wellington and in Winfield. Dobbs said the centers will not only provide a much-needed service for those seeking help, but it will also provide a shoulder for victims to lean on when they feel there is no escape.

“If they just want to come in and talk to somebody, that is what we are here for. We want to help in any way we can and if all that means is that we are just a listening ear that’s all it is. that’s all it has to be.¬†Just know that we are here and we want to help in any way we can,” she said.

Dobbs said the centers will soon have a 24-hour crisis response and will be able to respond to calls at local hospitals.

Cowley County location:
121 College Street, Winfield, KS 67156
24/7 hotline: 620-229-7233

Sumner County location:
204 S. Washington Avenue, Wellington, KS 67152
24/7 hotline: 620-440-3700