At right, Trecia Nickerson, left, and Jenna Luoma sign a pledge to stand up to domestic violence. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

MARQUETTE —“We’re here and we are ready to help.”

That’s the message Marquette County law enforcement agencies and representatives of the Women’s Center and Harbor House were sending to the public as they kicked off Domestic Violence Awareness Month on Monday at the Marquette Commons.

Alisha Young, program director for the Women’s Center, said one of the key purposes of the event make the public aware that local agencies remain united in efforts to stop domestic violence and provide assistance to domestic violence victims.

“It’s really important to get the awareness out, because a lot of people who are in domestic violence situations don’t acknowledge it,” Young said. “And if they do they are not ready to get the help. So we are just trying to get the word out there that we are here to help.”

Victims of domestic violence in Marquette and Alger counties can call the Harbor House 24/7 Crisis Line at 906-226-6611, or call toll free 1-800-455-6611 for confidential domestic violence counseling.

Karen Robinson of Pictured Rock Faces, left, shows Temperance Young, right, her reflection in the mirror during the Domestic Violence Awareness Kick-off at the Marquette Commons on Monday. The event brought police agencies from across Marquette County, victim advocacy groups, and Marquette County court officers together to promote awareness to domestic violence in the area. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

Information and referrals are provided through the crisis line to assist clients in accessing other community services including legal, medical and counseling services as well as housing and financial resources.

Young said the other purpose of the event was to recognize the part that law enforcement plays in combating domestic violence.

“We are honoring our law enforcement and criminal justice practitioners because the work they do is extremely stressful,” Young said.

Det. Captain Mike Kohler from the Marquette Police Department said county agencies are in the process of crafting a county-wide policy on how to handle domestic violence cases.

“If you have one case of domestic violence, it’s too much — and certainly we’ve seen too much of it in the Marquette County area,” Kohler said. “We are very united in the effort, this isn’t a matter of the Women’s Center, the Harbor House or any other victim advocacy group on one end and law enforcement on the other. We work closely together, and I think its important that we can show people that we do work together, we do communicate we do work together to do something about domestic violence.”

Michigan State Police Trooper Stacey Rasanen said the event offered police agencies an opportunity to get together with advocacy agencies and re-evaluate the effort to prevent incidents of domestic violence.

“Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a great time to talk about the things that we have done as well as the things that we can improve for the safety of our citizens,” Rasanen said.

“We are making sure that people know that it is an issue. We don’t want this in our community and we are going to do something about it. We are going to help the victims as well as their children to make sure they are assisted through the whole process.”

Young said the Women’s Center and Harbor House are always seeking volunteers to serve various functions.

Those interested in volunteering can contact the Women’s Center at 906-225-1345 or Sherrie at the Harbor House at 906-226-6611

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.