KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Since the start of 2019, the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department's victim services unit has served roughly 1,200 victims of domestic violence.
It's the first police-based victim services unit in the state of Kansas.
They work on a number of incidents from domestic violence and sexual assault to assisting families of homicide victims.
Two advocates are housed in the Wyandotte County Courthouse and they assist with orders of protection from abuse, stalking, sexual assault and human trafficking.
The unit also has two response advocates at police headquarters, where they help with any crime and respond on scene to all the homicides in the city.
Unit supervisor Wendy Medina said domestic abuse cases make up the majority of their calls. She said she and the advocates on her team want victims to have the resources readily available to them.
"We can talk about safety planning to make sure your, for example, documents are ready when you're ready to leave, have a trusted person you can call on, have housing in place. We can also help you get an order of protection," Medina said.
So far, the victim services unit assisted with about 600 orders of protection from abuse since the beginning of the year.
The unit also encourages those who may know someone in an abusive relationship to be a strong support system and try not to judge their situation.
"Worse thing that can happen is that they can become more isolated by losing those relationships — their friends, their family, because they are in this abusive relationship," Medina said. "Be there for them and at their pace."
It takes seven attempts for a victim to leave their abuser, Medina said.
"They might stay or come back to the relationship due to financial reasons, because they have no where to live. Maybe they've been isolated, they don't even have a job, but have children to take care of, they don't know how they're gong to do it on their own," Meidna said. "We're not going to judge you if you stayed in the past, we are here to help you with what you need at this moment, whether it's safety planning for the future when you are ready to leave, or you need to make a police report right now, if we need to help you get into an emergency shelter to help you with that."
The Kansas City Police Department also has a victim assistance unit for anyone looking for help.