Emily Bilcher

Emily Bilcher

If you’ve spent any time in Teton Valley and frequented most any restaurant, grocery store bathroom, doctor’s office or even the playgrounds… you have likely seen a blue sticker with the words “Are you safe?” My elementary school daughter even stuck a sticker on her notebook. These stickers serve as an ever-present reminder that there are people in our lives who are in fact not safe. We live and work alongside of people who are at risk and live in fear. Yet, there’s help available. FSN staff are highly trained and equipped with helpful resources.

When an individual calls Family Safety Network’s 24-hour hotline, or comes into our office to meet with an advocate, the first question they are asked is, “Are you safe?” Sometimes the answer is “yes” – physically they feel safe, but they are concerned about the significant emotional stress they are under in an unhealthy relationship and looking for tools and/or resources to help. Other times, they are unable to answer, because despite the physical safety they may feel, they live in fear and are suffering from mounting emotional and verbal abuse. Other times, through tears, they say “no”, they are not safe, they are afraid, and have no idea what to do.

Family Safety Network has two safe housing facilities in the valley. They are incredible resources for those we serve that are not safe. We often shelter clients in crisis and offer transitional housing to assist individuals who are leaving an abusive relationship to reach sustainable independent living. And when no option in our community is safe, we help individuals relocate out of the Valley.

Recently, a staff advocate checked a young mother and her child into shelter in the middle of the night. The client hadn’t slept in days; she was depleted, scared, and uneasy. At that point FSN is simply standing alongside of her until she regains a bit of stability. After a few days staying in shelter, she came into the office to check in with an advocate. She looked more rested than she had the previous days. Her shoulders were more relaxed, the muscles in her forehead not so tight. She looked toward the advocate and said, “I don’t know what this feeling is… I think for the first time in weeks I feel safe.”

Your support of Family Safety Network matters because it provides safety to individuals and families in Teton Valley that have forgotten what it feels like to be safe. It matters that the individual who is now safe, can begin to take next steps – whether those be to open a bank account, a new PO Box, or to secure steady employment and safe permanent housing. Over the past five years, the average number of clients served monthly at FSN has increased 42%. Most of these clients are victims of domestic or sexual violence. Your support of FSN guarantees we can continue to serve and empower these individuals to make the best choices for themselves and their children, supporting and encouraging them each step of the way.

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