Domestic violence, sexual assault care agency holds open house

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS ACCESS Executive Director Tess Cody, left, speaks about the agency's duties at Wednesday's open house event.

Local police and caregivers know all too well how common crimes like domestic violence and sexual assault are in central Iowa.

Leaders from both of those groups were on hand for an open house with the community Wednesday. Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support (ACCESS) Executive Director Tess Cody and Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper shared their thoughts on the importance of advocacy agencies like ACCESS.

“Domestic violence, sexual assault, those are problems that exist everywhere, and Marshalltown is not an exception to that,” Cody said.

She joined ACCESS in February to oversee its five-county operation. That region includes Marshall, Tama and Story counties.

“The services that ACCESS provides are critical to the victims of these crimes to help them get through the process and help them get to a stage of healing,” Tupper said. “They advocate for the victim throughout the entire criminal justice process and beyond.”

Cody said ACCESS also provides a shelter, transitional housing, counseling and more to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, the family of homicide victims, robbery, stalking and other violent crimes.

She said the agency will be particularly vigilant in Marshalltown in the coming months because of concerns about the aftermath of the July 19 tornado.

“We’ve got risk factors related to storm recovery and we’ve got risk factors related to violence, and now we’re going to overlay those,” Cody said.

She said the agency has seen an uptick in the number of requests for housing assistance and the number of no contact order violations. While previous upward trends are being considered as well, Cody said the post-storm environment may cause extra obstacles to violence victims.

“Let’s say somebody was in an abusive relationship and now they’re choosing to leave at this point. Now, they’re looking for an apartment,” Cody said. “If housing stock has changed now, all the sudden this complicates what was already a volatile situation.”

The ACCESS domestic violence crisis line can be reached at 1-855-983-4641, and the sexual assault crisis line can be reached at 1-800-203-3488. For more on ACCESS, visit https://www.assaultcarecenter.org/

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Contact Adam Sodders at

(641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com