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Program scheduled to aid domestic violence victims

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BATON ROUGE - A program scheduled to help domestic abuse victims which will begin in January, focuses on getting victims of violence in the home out of dangerous situations in an attempt to end domestic-related disturbances in the future.

The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office received a grant to help victims. It's called the Hospital Based Violence Intervention Program. The EBR District Attorney's Office received a $255 million grant. That money will hire six social workers to meet with victims in the hospital.

The goal is to target victims when they are most vulnerable. That means getting them out of their dangerous situation and into a safer environment before they are released from the hospital.

"I was left in an open field on 38th Street left to die," Elissa Boudreaux said.

But, Elissa Boudreaux lived to tell her story.

"He beat me beyond recognition," Boudreaux said. "My face was swollen, as big as you can think it would be, eyes blackened, lips busted."

After surviving a vicious attack, Boudreaux became an advocate for domestic violence victims. Preventing scenes like the ones that have become all too common recently are the goals of the District Attorney's Office. Tonight, there are openings for six new social workers. They would primarily treat patients who are victims at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital first.

"There will be six specific victim assistants working with the hospitals and urgent care centers," Domestic Violence Prosecutor Melanie Fields said. "They will rotate call and be on call 24/7."

According to nation statistics, someone becomes a victim of domestic violence every 15 seconds. Over the past week, three notable cases made news in our area. Starting last week, when Anthony McKinney was shot and killed after he stabbed his girlfriend. Then in Denham Springs, Kent Scott allegedly stabbed his longtime girlfriend. And more than 24-hours ago in Ascension Parish, a woman was arrested accused of stabbing her boyfriend to death.

"If you assist them right when they are physically and emotionally in crisis, they might be more open to services and help them become survivors," Fields said.

That's why victims like Boudreaux plan to keep fighting. This new program is something they believe can help those too scared to speak up.

The program is expected to kick off in January and will run through the first half of 2017. Initially, the focus will be on hospitals, but could expand to include other health clinics.


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