JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and victim advocates at the Jones County Sheriff’s Department want teens in abusive relationships to come forward.
According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, about 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a partner. The Jones County Sheriff’s Department is reminding victims that help is always available.
“Chances are, and this may not always be the case, but if you have a young person that has found themselves in an abusive relationship, they may have grown up in it,” said Jones County investigator Priscilla Breland.
Breland said many young people aren’t speaking out about their situation, unfortunately.
“If they find themselves in it, they say, ‘Well mamma or daddy, it happened to them. This is what is supposed to happen to me,’” Breland said.
Breland works alongside two other advocates in the department. The trio wants victims to know they are not alone. Deputy Shannon Koss said she stands by her victims from the very beginning and even through the legal process.
“They’re afraid to come forward and they don’t know what they need to do, but they just want the person to stop coming over, stop having contact, stop texting them, stop calling them,” Koss said.
Both advocates said it’s their job to meet victims where they’re located. While they’re not counselors, they’re always willing to listen.
“A lot of people don’t want to call law enforcement, but they can call and ask for the victim’s advocate. Yes, myself and deputy Koss are sworn deputies, but we’re here to help,” Breland said.
During Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the board approved the sheriff’s department to apply for two grants to provide more funding for the victim advocates at the department.