This year has seen many changes for the Cherokee Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault (CAASA) but its mission to eliminate personal, institutional and societal violence against individuals by empowering victims and survivors by providing supportive programs and services is stronger than ever.
Battling budget cuts and increase case numbers due to economical stress, in 2009 CAASA served 666 new clients. Their crisis advocates answered 482 crisis line calls and 69 adults and 67 children spent 884 nights in shelter. In the first six months of 2010, CAASA saw 327 new clients, while sheltering 30 adults and 32 children for a total of 566 nights in shelter.
As of July of 2010, CAASA reports their advocates have worked with 56 new adults and 23 new youth in Cherokee County. Ten percent of all crisis calls since that time have originated from Cherokee County.
CAASA provides services for victims of domestic and sexual violence in Cherokee, Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Ida, Palo Alto and Sac Counties. These services include a 24 hour crisis line, crisis counseling and advocacy for adults and children, support groups for adults and children, shelter, medical and legal advocacy, school outreach and violence prevention programs, community education and information programs, and professional education.
In September, CAASA moved its office to 112 N. 5th St. in Cherokee at the former location of Kids to Kids and, before that, Love Tire, located just across the street from the Law Enforcement Center.
CAASA has switched its focus from sheltering clients to providing prevention education and crisis counseling. Kristi Langschwanger serves as the Prevention Education Coordinator and provides clients with counseling, as well as providing educational presentations at area schools or other groups who request a presentation.
Even though Cherokee no longer has a shelter for victims and their children, they are still accepting donations to aid this group, either monetary assistance or items such as food or clothing.
No one is immune and anyone can be a victim of sexual or domestic violence. If you suspect someone is being abused or has been assaulted be supportive, nonjudgmental and understanding. Try not to ask, "What the victim did" to cause the abuse and remember that victims don not cause abuse, abusers do.
CAASA offer outreach in four locations, Cherokee, Storm Lake, Spencer and Spirit Lake. Those offices are staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and trained staff are on-call 24 hours a day for crisis and emergency situations.
Help is only a phone call away at 225-5003. All services are confidential and free of charge to anyone regardless of race, religion, sex or capability.