In 1999 Women and Children’s Horizons, Inc. expanded its Law Enforcement Advocacy Program (LEAP) in order to support victims at the scenes of domestic abuse crimes throughout Kenosha County. All law enforcement agents in Kenosha County were trained in aspects of domestic abuse and the services provided by Women and Children’s Horizons. Each time an officer responds to a domestic abuse crime, he or she offers to call a LEAP Advocate to assist the victim. An advocate then responds to the scene to offer support, information and a personal plan to help the victim stay safe during a frightening time.
While at the scene of the domestic abuse crime, the advocate’s role is to educate, support and counsel the victim on the cycle of abuse, power and control issues, the effects of witnessing domestic abuse on children (as appropriate), options for the victim, and safety planning. Volunteers have an opportunity to use their natural skills and talents to assist and empower others while gaining valuable experience for their own futures. Volunteers were aggressively recruited throughout the county and to the dismay of the program director, not many individuals wanted to put themselves at a crime scene.
Greta Menke is one of those volunteers, however, who took the risk. She had the empathy and courage necessary to satisfy a growing need. Staff of Women and Children’s Horizons covered the city, but they had only a few volunteers to cover the rest of the county that included small towns and rural areas. Due to the limited volunteers, Menke ended up on call for LEAP nearly every day.
She built a special relationship with the law enforcement officers in the county and many victims had the opportunity to work with her. The expansion of Women and Children’s Horizons LEAP program into the county would not have been possible without Menke’s help and many rural victims of domestic abuse would have been denied an empathetic ear.
Menke’s understanding of the issues surrounding domestic abuse and her willingness to be on call nearly every day endears her to the staff and board of directors of Women and Children’s Horizons, local law enforcement officers and the victims with whom she has contact.