Archived Story

More to DASAS than the shelter

Published 8:59pm Thursday, February 2, 2012

Most people know Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services (DASAS) by its Three Rivers shelter.
DASAS serves St. Joseph and Van Buren counties as well as Cass with a $750,000 budget (mostly federal grants, passed through the state, United Way and fundraisers), so provides other programs and services.
There are two weekly support groups at its Dowagiac office in the Wesley House by First United Methodist Church.
Healthy Relationships, a program addressing partner violence, sexual assault and how to make positive changes, was offered last week to Cassopolis middle and high school students.
“It covers dating violence,” Kimberly Kramer, director for DASAS, told members of the Dowagiac Rotary Club Thursday at Elks Lodge 889. “(Sexual Assault Advocate and Prevention Educator Danny Inman) had a 13-year-old girl come up to him and disclosed she knew of a friend being sexually abused by her father, so we were able to reach out and provide services and report it, as we are required.”
Fifteen percent of sexual assault victims are younger than 12. Girls ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims.
Ninety-three percent of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attackers.
“The most dangerous time is when somebody leaves their abuser,” she said. “Many people never hit their significant other. They don’t have to because other things they do work, like The Look. There’s a look I give my husband when I want him to do something.”
Since abusive relationships are about power and control, “They’re not allowed to work or have a time limit to get groceries. They make it difficult to leave. Most women stay because of the children, which seems like a dumb reason, but that’s often the safest way to make sure they’re not being harmed.”
Stress in troubled economic times, including alcohol and drug use, “It’s already present, it just comes out more,” Kramer said.
Kramer, of Portage, started with the 27-year-old DASAS in 2004 as a  personal protection order (PPO) advocate in the Cass County Prosecutor’s Office and recently moved to director from assistant director.
She graduated from Western Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and spoke as the guest of DASAS board member Don Woodhouse. Rotarian Jennifer Ray, Cass District Library director, also serves on the board with retired superintendent Ron Jones. Don’s wife, Lauren, is a past board member.
Kramer chairs the Housing Continuum of Care, which addresses homelessness. DASAS participates in the Navigators women’s group at the jail, seeing nine inmates regularly. A sexual assault advocate serves clients on the SMC campus.
Kim and her husband have a 6-year-old foster son they hope to adopt.
They have completed four mission trips to the Dominican Republic. She visited Africa last year.

‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’

Men will be teetering around the track at Three Rivers High School in red high heels for “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” on May 19.
DASAS Director Kim Kramer says the event is part fundraiser, part awareness raiser.
Since she encountered resistance from her husband, men who “step up” will have the option of completing a mile
in red flip flops or red tennis shoes.
“We understand not everyone is brave enough to do heels,” she said of a “fun family event about
a serious cause” organized like Relay for Life, with an Elvis imitator, a clown and snow cones.
Brave men can call Rose at (269) 273-6154 ext. 101, or e-mail dasasinfo@dasasmi.org.
For Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, Southwestern Michigan College will be having
two movie nights on campus.

(800) 828-2023 — 24/7 help line

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