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Domestic, sexual violence summit in Hays next week




Northwest Kansas agencies are coming together next week with the common goal of educating residents about a common problem -- sexual and domestic violence.

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Northwest Kansas agencies are coming together next week with the common goal of educating residents about a common problem -- sexual and domestic violence.

"Summit: Confronting Violence in our Communities" will begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in Hays Medical Center's first-floor Hadley conference rooms. The event is a collaborative effort between Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, HaysMed, law enforcement and other agencies.

"I've always said education is the key to everything," said Charlotte Linsner, executive director of Options. "In our world and our societies we are living in now, we cannot continue to close our eyes to any of these two subjects, domestic violence or sexual violence."

The summit will be followed by a special forensic training symposium, geared toward continuing education for medical and law enforcement officials, on Wednesday at Hays Medical Center.

The summit will feature keynote speaker Rus Funk, executive director of MensWork and a longtime advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence. He will discuss how strategic planning can help prevent violence and also assist law enforcement and community advocates in preparing a local plan, Linsner said.

"It will hopefully be helpful for other communities in the western part of Kansas that will be attending," she said. "They can take the information that is discussed and brainstormed to their communities and hopefully implement prevention techniques in their own communities."

Other topics will include a presentation about violence in the workplace by Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Tod Hileman. A sexual assault nurse examiner from Kansas City, Jennifer Johnson, will discuss suspect and male sexual assault examinations.

Participants also can attend an interactive workshop focusing on how to reduce violence against women.

Those wanting to attend should RSVP ahead of time by contacting Options at (785) 625-3055. There is an individual attendance fee of $55, with discounts available for students and groups.

While the domestic violence summit has been in Hays the past three years, this is the first year HaysMed has partnered with the community effort, said Jessica Albers, a sexual assault nurse examiner in Hays.

The hospital will host a second event Wednesday that is intended to offer first responders and medical professionals more education about violence issues. HaysMed established a SANE program in 2010, and the program now consists of five trained nurses, with three more completing training.

"We've seen an increase in the number of patients coming for sexual assault exams, and I think that is in part due to the increased awareness in our communities that we offer that service," Albers said.

Response has been positive for the first such event offered in northwest Kansas, Albers said, noting those needing this type of education often are forced to travel.

The forensic symposium will address issues such as drug-facilitated sexual assault, which seems to be on the rise particularly in teenagers and college-aged crowds, she said.

"I think definitely alcohol is the No. 1 drug of choice for drug-facilitated assault," she said. "For one reason, people drink it voluntarily; it tastes good.

"You're out having a good time with friends ... and you don't realize how incapacitated you are getting, and someone can take advantage of that."

Medical professionals also will discuss strangulation, which often accompanies domestic and sexual violence but is not always reported or evaluated. A former victim of abuse also will share her story.

The continuing education event will begin at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in the same location. The cost is $25 for HaysMed and affiliated employees, and $50 for unaffiliated employees. Those wanting to attend can RSVP by calling (785) 623-5500.