Stopping the cycle

Beacon of Hope Crisis Center Executive Director Sandra Ziebold says the organization has seen rapid growth since relocating to Perry Township

*Photo by Nicole Davis: Beacon of Hope Crisis Center Executive Director Sandra Ziebold says she is happy to be able to spend her time helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault find their way to safety.

Beacon of Hope Crisis Center is seeing more walk-in clients than ever and experiencing rapid growth, thanks in part to its decision to relocate last February. The nonprofit aimed at serving the victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse had not only grown out of its former location inWayne Township, but wanted to be more centralized to its Central Indiana client base, said CEO/Executive Director Sandra Ziebold.

The center at 6920 S. East St., Indianapolis, is that central location, is on a bus route and easily accessible: all factors which Ziebold said she hopes will allow victims to more easily utilize the services offered. After all, it’s all about reaching these clients sooner, getting them out of negative and potentially dangerous situations.

“We have to try to get to them more quickly,” she said. “You can see the homicide rates and linking it to domestic violence. If we can intervene more quickly, we can help save lives… You can see an uptick as people become more aware. We’re excited to offer this service here in Perry Township.”

Ziebold, a Franklin Township resident, has been involved with Beacon of Hope since 2012, serving four years as vice president of the board. As a survivor of domestic abuse herself, she said she was looking to be involved with a domestic abuse agency, allowing her to give back and let victims know that it is possible to get out of that situation, survive and thrive.

For four years, she was only able to dedicate nights and weekends to the cause while working another full-time job. When the former executive director resigned, the board spent a lot of time trying to fill that role. It was suggested to her, and she eventually considered, going for that position herself. She took over as CEO/executive director in the beginning of 2016.

“I love the fact that I am now dedicating my time 100 percent to helping victims get safe,” she said.

Ziebold knew she wanted to grow the team and restructure the organization. Beacon of Hope was a domestic violence agency only. Under her leadership, the organization added sexual assault to its advocacy services. The organization is a member of Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault.

The message Ziebold said she would really like to get out, is to help people understand why a victim won’t leave.

“There’s a lot of victim blaming out there,” she said. “Survivors might be afraid that the’ll be killed, the violence will increase, that their partner not be able to survive alone or might commit suicide, that they’ll take the children, harm the children or their pets. They might threaten that if they tell anyone, they’ll lose their children. There’s a cycle of violence in an abusive situation, a cyclical tension building, explosion, calm and honeymoon scenario. That repeats, over and over. There is definitely a denial component. You think it’s going to get better. Some of the honeymoon phase after the tension and explosion is ‘I won’t do it again,’ and you want to believe. But often times it escalates. It’s a regular pattern and it’s difficult to break free of it because of the fear of what might happen. That’s where places like Beacon of Hope can be helpful. Our advocates understand these barriers, can help build a safety plan and help victims understand what all is available to help them break that cycle.”

Beacon of Hope branding. *Submitted photo.

Partnerships, such as Beacon of Hope has with local law enforcement agencies, are crucial, Ziebold said. These departments can call Beacon of Hope while they’re investigating a domestic violence situation, where advocates there can educate about what resources are available, which in turn increases the likelihood a victim will leave.

“Sometimes a lack of resources are a concern,” she said. “You have no work history, no access to funds and children dependent on you. Those are things where we can help. Sometimes barriers are more about values or a cultural thing. We feel strongly that kids need a two-parent family. People marry for life. If you’re raised religiously, divorce is wrong. That’s a huge barrier. Sometimes, you just have to make that decision for your safety and your children.”

Beacon of Hope is also certified by the State of Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board as a training provider for Indiana law enforcement on both domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Beacon of Hope serves approximately 900 clients per year, primarily in Marion, Johnson and Hendricks counties. Ziebold said while there are many organizations aimed to help these victims, it’s not enough to meet demand. Since relocating to Perry Township, Ziebold said they are now at capacity and looking at grants and other fundraising efforts to be able to expand at its current facility.

“We’re getting our foothold in this new location,” she said. “People are getting more aware of our expanded services.”
In October, Beacon of Hope served 87 new clients while providing follow-up and case management services to 700. Nine pets were placed in foster homes.

The organization was recently awarded the KLOVE Share the Love award for its positive impact in the community.

The organization was recently awarded the KLOVE Share the Love award for its positive impact in the community.

Grant funding to allow expansion typically requires community support, a match component. The organization recently received a $30,000 grand from Central Indiana Community Foundation. Beacon of Hope is is currently seeking grants and large donors to expand, add language services and become a 24/7 agency. There are currently nine people on staff, along with a team of volunteers. They are always looking for volunteers for the crisis call intake center, for which there is required training.

As part of those efforts, Beacon of Hope will have a Girls Night Out, Women Helping Women 2018 Fundraising Event, with Benedict Inn Retreat & Conference Center on Jan. 26, 7 to 9:30 p.m. Those interested can learn more at BeaconOfHopeIndy.org/girls-night-out.

It will host an event with Barbeque and Bourbon in Speedway, Ind., in February, in which law enforcement partners will serve dinner, with an auction.They are ready for tryouts and hoping to compete in the Brackets for Good Indianapolis Tournament in March.

More about the programs:

Beacon of Hope’s programs consist of its crisis call center, criminal justice program, domestic violence advocacy, sexual abuse advocacy, foster pet program, economic sustainability program, prevention empowerment program and teen talk outreach and education program. Sandra Ziebold explains those programs and their importance further:

Economic Sustainability: “It’s very important that we’re empowering clients and helping them get independent and self sufficient. I feel strongly that we don’t necessarily need more shelters but need to support our shelters. Our agency is trying to provide services to help victims in shelter and victims not needing shelter but to get out of their situation quickly. If they’ve been controlled financially or haven’t been allowed to work, any number of barriers can come up, but they have to get economically sustainable to leave their situation and take care of their children. We’re helping them get those skills, get those interviews. Whatever they need to get economically sustainable is a vital part.”

Foster Pet Program: “As a victim, looking to get out of a domestic violence situation, I understood firsthand because of my situation that one of the barriers of leaving could be the abuser threatening harm to your pet. My pet was threatened and it was harmed. Our foster pet program allows victims to safely leave their situation. Their pet can be fostered while they’re trying to become self-sufficient and then they can be reunited with that pet.”

Teen Talk Outreach and Education: “We’re trying to reach youth here in central Indiana – in church groups, middle, high schools and college campuses – to get the word out about what healthy relationships look like and what to do if you or someone you know is in trouble.”

Criminal Justice Program: A program unique to Beacon of Hope, its Victims of Crime team works with the organization’s six law enforcement partners: Speedway, Beech Grove, Lawrence, Greenwood, Bargersville and Southport Police Departments. “Anyone that comes in, if their domestic violence situation has law enforcement involved, that team handles that. Our advocates are able to educate the client about the criminal justice process.”

Crisis Call Team: “If law enforcement isn’t involved, the crisis call team handles that. We’re trying to do prevention. We’re trying to make sure that situation doesn’t evolve into law enforcement being involved. Sometimes those calls, their crisis might be in the past and they’re still dealing with issues. They need counseling services.”