Perhaps no relationship is more important than that of the relationship between a mother and child, but in that relationship, the needs of those two parties can vary greatly. That’s why the constant collaboration between The CARE Center and YWCA of Oklahoma City is so important.

YWCA serves adults who have been impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault, just as The CARE Center serves children who have been abused.

“Our partnership with the YWCA has a generational impact on our shared community,” said CARE Center CEO Stacy McNeiland. “The work Jan Peery and her team do to help those impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault is crucial. As they do their work, they often encounter children who have been victimized, and the children are brought to The CARE Center for an exam and a forensic interview so that healing can begin.

“Likewise, there are times when a child comes to The CARE Center, and in the course of the investigation into what happened to that child, we discover there’s a mom who has also been abused. There is no one better than the YWCA of Oklahoma City to address that mother’s needs and help her end the cycle of abuse. The partnership between The CARE Center and the YWCA is part of the fabric of both agencies, and we’re really proud of that collaboration.”

YWCA President and CEO Jan Peery has been the force behind the YWCA for more than two decades.

“Domestic violence and sexual assault crimes do not happen to a specific group of people,” Peery said. Sometimes, we have this idea that it’s something that occurs in certain communities that have traits in common, like a certain race or religion or people without a college education who are low income. That’s simply not the case. These crimes happen in all sectors of life, across every sector of society. Men can be hurt by women too, and we do serve men as well.”

The YWCA offers emergency shelter and access to other interventions to help participants redefine their home life as single parents.

While staying in a temporary residential setting, clients are assigned an advocate, who helps create a safety plan and talks the client through their immediate needs like clothes, shoes and other material items. Longer-term planning includes helping clients set goals, define next steps and find group counseling.

The YWCA helps coordinate individual counseling, working through partner agencies to access services and how to get a job, all steps toward stability. Sessions on job skills and how to fill out applications, asset building, credit repair and managing a budget are part of the finance classes offered to help ensure a more successful transition to independence.

Forensic exams for adults after sexual assault crimes also take place through YWCA. Advocacy and counseling are primary roles the organization fills in our community through its variety of staffers.

Peery says clients’ progress motivates her work and helps her stay positive. The work her staff does inspires her every day.

“I’m just the fluff. My staff are the ones who walk the walk and do the hard work that has to be done for the women and children we serve,” said Peery. “Watching them grow and seeing their successes and what they share with me is what helps me. I know we’re making an impact because I see systemic changes that affect our clients’ journeys. When I took this position, there was very little social cognizance about domestic violence. Now, it’s often the topic of conversation at community meetings and organizations want to help.”

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