Olmsted County Attorney Starts New Victim Resource Center

Posted at: 07/12/2013 9:37 PM
Updated at: 07/12/2013 10:11 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- For victims, especially those of domestic abuse, resources can be tough to find. Now, Olmsted County is to making things more accessible.

One spot with resources such as the women shelter, law enforcement, victim services and more, in one place, and at no cost? Sounds too good to be true. The Olmsted County Attorney is working to provide just that at the government center.

After touring a similar concept at the Hennepin County Government Center, Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem said he wanted to provide the same thing locally. It's basically a place with multiple resources to make things easier for victims of any crime.

"To actually reach out for help is probably the hardest step and if that step becomes a complicated it just becomes imposable," said Suzie Christenson, Executive Director of the Women's Shelter in Rochester.

"If they can’t find somebody to help them file an order of protection, they may have to go without and that creates an unsafe situation for them," said Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem. That is the reason behind his decision to try something new, so that help doesn't have to be so hard to find.

Hennepin County has a room where victims can go to find help with just about anything. We have those resources here, but they're spread out. "...order of protection type help, child support help, regular family support, shelter, whatever it may be, they have to go to all sorts of different places to get that help," said Ostrem.

Some of those resources are hard to get in touch with too, like the women's shelter. "We do what we do without letting people know all that we do which is an advantage for victims but a disadvantage as well," said Christenson.

"The idea is not necessary to provide all of these services up there, but to make the connection to those services up there," said Ostrem.

You'll soon find that in a room up on the 5th floor of the government center. People will be there to help you get in touch with the resources you need.

"So if that first initial step of reaching out, you get something in return that's very easy, easy to understand, you know exactly where to go, you have people to help you, the likelihood they'll be able to make some good decisions about their future," said Christenson.

Again the room will be used to help victims of any crime, but primarily domestic abuse. Ostrem says there's no cost to adding this, because they already have employees in each of those departments. They'll just be sending some of their people up there to help.