By DAWNE LEIKER
1As a child, Fisher became familiar with domestic violence shelters, watching her mother work as an advocate in a California shelter. After moving to Kansas, Fisher served as a law enforcement officer for the Hays Police Department for nine years.
Fisher's experience with law enforcement and the judicial system have given her the knowledge to make those systems less intimidating to her clients at Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, Hays.
"I'm happy to carry that knowledge with me, to help them through those systems," she said. "It's a very frightening experience, especially if they don't know what to expect or who is on their side, and who isn't.
"The court systems are confusing for anyone. But for a victim, they can be even more confusing."
Dealing with domestic violence situations while she was in law enforcement, Fisher said, she essentially was providing a "stop-gap" service to stop the immediate situation. However, she was unable to work with victims long enough to help them get out of their situation long-term.
Her position now allows her not only to assist her clients through an immediate threat, but also continue to move on to safer living conditions.
"There's so many times in law enforcement I would go to calls two, three or four times ... and you really want to sit down with that victim and say, 'How long do you plan to stay here, and what can I do to help you get out of this situation?' " she said. "But in law enforcement, there's just not enough time to do that."
Charlotte Linsner, executive director of Options, said Fisher's insight into law enforcement has been a benefit to the shelter.
"It enhances what we already have," Linsner said. "She knows the system and can help clients walk through it."
As an advocate, Fisher said she is able to know the victims better, help them heal, learn their options and get them the resources they need. She works not only as an advocate, but also as volunteer coordinator. She also provides individual peer counseling for clients, accompanies them to court dates, the hospital and social services.
The reward for Fisher?
"To see some of these victims that go through what they've gone through, and the tragedies in their lives ... and see them transform into an independent, more confident person," she said.