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Domestic Violence Summit continues to see growth





The Domestic Violence Summit, now in its second year, is attracting wide-scale participation as the event brings agencies from Kansas together for domestic violence education.

Set for Tuesday, the summit will be at Fort Hays State University's Memorial Union.

Keynote speaker, Lundy Bancroft, author of four books dealing with domestic violence, will present a session beginning at 1:15 p.m.

Bancroft, who developed one of the first batterers' intervention curriculums, was selected as keynote speaker in light of the research he has done on the effects of violence on families.

Charlotte Linsner, executive director of Options, said she heard Bancroft speak at an event last year and brought his name to the summit committee for consideration.

"We feel very fortunate Mr. Bancroft was available and agreeable to sharing his vast knowledge on the subject at the 2012 summit," she said.

Organizers of last year's summit were "pleasantly surprised" at the number of participants, according to Vicki Runge of Strategies for Change, an agency of Northwest Kansas Community Corrections. This year, focus of the summit has expanded to the effects of violence and abuse on children and those with disabilities.

"We are looking at the overall mental health issues and how to address all those," Runge said.

Breakout sessions for the summit will include: Mental Health First Aid by Ken Loos of High Plains Mental Health; Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner programs by Shirley Fessler of Kansas Center for Sexual and Domestic Violence; coordinated community response teams from Ottawa and Newton; prosecuting domestic violence cases by Travis Harrod, Kansas Attorney General's office; and Sara Rust-Martin, KCSDV office; and disability and domestic violence issues presented by a panel of victims, law enforcement and advocates.

Initially, the event was organized by Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, but now FHSU's Women's Leadership Project, Strategies for Change and Jana's Campaign to Stop Domestic Violence, and family crisis centers from Great Bend and Garden City are collaborating with the local groups to organize the summit.

"There's a need for education west of Salina," said Christie Brungardt, senior fellow of FHSU's Women's Leadership Project. "Obviously, there's a great demand."

Registrations for the summit have come from not just Kansas, but neighboring Missouri. Brungardt said the widespread interest in learning more about domestic violence is encouraging.

"It's a community-wide problem, so it's going to have to be met with a community-wide solution," she said. "And that means everyone in every sector.

"I really hope for a lot of widespread community attendance because of the whole idea that we've got to quit looking at just one sector to solve this."

Police chiefs from Ottawa and Newton, communities known for their best-practices for coordinated community response teams, will share their expertise in organizing efforts to include their entire communities in domestic violence prevention.

The community impact of domestic violence is far-reaching, according to studies cited by Curt Brungardt, executive director of the Center for Civic Leadership.

"There's a number of research studies that talk about the impact of domestic violence on the U.S. economy based on lost work production and productivity, and it's absolutely staggering," he said. "Not just insurance costs, but loss of productivity in the American economy."

Christie Brungardt said there is reason to believe efforts of those working toward elimination of violence toward women might be paying some dividends. Since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, domestic violence has decreased by 50 percent, she said.

"So that gives me hope, because I know it has been done," Brungardt said. "Knowing that makes me think we can change the culture.

"We can change society."

Summit registration information is available by calling (785) 625-3055.