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Turning Point offers help to those in crisis

By: Brendan Losinski | C&G Newspapers | Published February 14, 2020

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MACOMB COUNTY — With February being Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Turning Point shelter and aid organization based in Mount Clemens is getting the word out that help is available for those in abusive situations.

Whether someone was victimized from a single incident or they have been living with abuse for years, those at Turning Point want the public to know there is a path forward and a way to a better life.

“Our mission is to provide programs and resources to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault that enables them to regain control of their lives,” explained Anne Bicego, Turning Point’s chief program officer for domestic violence services.

The organization accomplishes this mission through a variety of ways.

“We have a 52-bed shelter for those who need refuge; we have counseling services for adults and children, forensic nurse examiners to provide forensic exams for sexual assault survivors, (and) advocates who can provide emotional support and resources,” Bicego said. “We do have an office at the circuit court ... where we offer legal advocacy and help with personal protection orders. All PPOs need to be done electronically now, so we can help navigate that process and provide the resources as well.”

Stephanie Harris was among those who came to Turning Point looking for help. She got it, was empowered to change her circumstances, and now works with the group to help others.

“Turning Point helped me by giving me a place to go and gave me a social worker who provided a safe space to talk about what was going on and get to the root of my scenario,” she said. “With their help, I was able to find my own answers. She didn’t tell me what to do, but gave me what I needed to outgrow the scenario I was in and what I was putting up with.”

Harris said that among the biggest obstacles they encounter is the notion that there is no one who can help and no way to leave an abusive situation.

“If you feel uncomfortable, speak up,” she said. “When I went back to my old high school to speak, I heard students there say, ‘Why speak up? No one is going to listen,’ and it broke my heart. You need to keep talking until somebody does something.”

Sara Dobbyn, Turning Point’s director of training and community education, also said they encounter resistance from many in the community who think the victim is at fault for being in the abusive situation, failing to leave that situation or somehow bringing it upon themselves.

“For some reason, whether it’s sexual assault or domestic violence, there’s a lot of victim blaming or thinking it’s somehow their fault,” she said. “We try to educate people through training, social media and youth education.”

She said they are planning several initiatives over the course of the next several weeks to try and reach people who need to hear Turning Point’s message.

“For Teen Violence Awareness Month we are promoting ‘Love Is,’ which promotes what healthy relationships are,” said Dobbyn. “We will have survivor quilts on display, which are made of swatches made by survivors in which they describe their experiences.”

Harris said that even if someone is not a victim of abuse, they can still reach out to those in their life who might have been victimized, or they can help Turning Point’s efforts to aid those who are recovering.

“From a community perspective, I am constantly encouraging people to contact Turning Point, where they can volunteer or work in the community store they offer. Many people don’t know who we are or get us confused with the Turning Point in Pontiac, which is more related to substance abuse,” she said. “There’s a wish list on the website where there are specific items people can buy for those seeking help here.”

“I think a great starting point for those who want to help is checking out our website to look at upcoming events or seeing if there are ways to volunteer or make a monetary donation,” Dobbyn added.

The most important thing those at Turning Point want people to know is how to get in touch with them, and that there is never a bad time to call.

“The first thing they need to do is call (586) 463-6990, which is our 24/7 hotline manned by trained professionals who can talk with them and give them advice as to what they can do,” said Bicego. “More information also can be found at www.turningpointmacomb.org.”

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