A counselor trained to help domestic-violence victims through the court system and live on their own has set up Friday hours at the Ada Jenkins Center.
The hope is that having a counselor at the center will encourage more Lake Norman-area domestic violence victims to report abuse, said Kathryn Sellers, Mooresville-Lake Norman region director for Charlotte-based United Family Services, the nonprofit agency providing the counselor.
About half of the residents who seek food, health care and other services at Ada Jenkins speak Spanish as their primary language, so having a bilingual counselor is vital to more women coming forward, Sellers said.
Many women won't report abuse if they don't have a support network nearby, a void the counselor fills, Sellers said.
The counselor started at Ada Jenkins on Oct. 3. For security reasons, she asked that her name not be published.
A 2002 United Way study revealed domestic-violence services as a top unmet need in the Lake Norman area.
The counselor will help victims obtain domestic-violence protection orders from the magistrate's office in Charlotte and get resources they need to live on their own. Sellers is among lake area community leaders pushing court officials for a magistrate's office in north Mecklenburg.
The counselor will help women understand the cycle of abuse, help them make choices and empower them, Sellers said.