Teen dating violence role of law enforcement, ACCESS

There are organizations and agencies in Marshalltown which respond to and address teenage dating violence. Two of those agencies are ACCESS and the Marshalltown Police Department.

ACCESS, a nonprofit organization focusing on victims of domestic and sexual violence, assists people in Marshall, Tama, Boone, Green and Story counties. ACCESS Domestic Abuse Supervisor Kristina Griego said their services are free and confidential, and are to empower the victim. She said they are not there to tell the victim to leave the abuser, but rather help them reach that decision themselves.

“Then they are more than likely going to stay away, and not go back to the abuser,” Griego said. “We are a quiet agency, but we want people to know we are there. Victims come to us and divulge their most horrendous trauma. We want them to know we are there to support them.”

Whether the trauma occurred last night or 10 years ago, she said ACCESS helps victims. Griego said they have never turned anyone away, and give the reins to the victim.

“We are the bus,” she said. “We provide the resources and they continue driving. They are in control of the entire situation. They are individuals, human beings, survivors.”

MPD Lt. Sadie Weekley said how officers respond to a teenage case depends on how the department received a report. Sometimes the report might come from the victim, from the parents or through the school system, she said.

“We always make sure the parents understand what’s going on,” Weekley said. “They’re the ones who are going to protect juveniles. We want to make sure the parents are involved.”

If the report came from the school district, she said they work with school officials to try to keep the victim and the abuser separate from each other. Usually, they both attend the same school and so should not be in the same class at the same time. The department also focuses on obtaining social media information, since online activity is very prevalent.

Since the cases involve juveniles, the steps of the MPD change, Weekley said. There is more leeway with mandatory arrests, as most of the time the victim and abuser are not living together.

However, the victim might be able to obtain a no-contact order, she said.

“That might be a good route for them to go,” Weekley said.

However, she recalled one case several years ago in which the victim and the abuser were both in high school, and the victim had a child. Weekley said they decided to live together, and a lot of abuse was taking place. The fact both were juveniles made the arrest more difficult, but it became mandatory.

When friends or family suspect teen dating violence, Griego and Weekley said one thing they can do is speak to the victim without judgment.

“Say you noticed these things and are concerned,” Weekley said. “Let them know you are there for them if they want to talk.”

If someone feels a person is in danger, definitely call 911, and Weekley said they can get an officer to the scene right away. For welfare checks, and non-emergency situations, she said people can call 641-754-5725.


Contact Lana Bradstream

at 641-753-6611 ext. 210 or



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