Inside GPD's Crime Victim's Assistance Unit - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Inside GPD's Crime Victim's Assistance Unit

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Almost every night on our news cast we unfortunately share with you headlines about family violence. Take for example the story we told you about last night about a man who stabbed his relative eight times in the back.

Or stories in which girls are raped sometimes even in their own beds. April is Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Prevention Month and we're focusing those on the front lines fighting this epidemic.

"Guam is so small and yet it's rampant," said Guen Belandres. On any given day, night, weekend or holiday, Belandres and Adriana Rios will be standing up for the voiceless, for those who feel they have nowhere to go, no one to talk to, no one to turn to for help. "In a weeks time it depends on average its 10 to 15," Rios said.

"She's toning down the numbers she can call about 28 in a week," noted Belandres.

Rios and Belandres are the angels on earth that man the Guam Police Department's Crime Victim's Assistance Unit. Day in and day out they mull over police blotters reaching out to victims of crime to reassure them they're here to help, or they'll respond to requests from the Guam Police Department or service partners like the AG's Office, VARO or Child Protective Services. From victims of family violence and sexual assault as young as one years old to the island's elderly they never turn anyone away.

"To get into this field of work its not to gain profit 336 its not about the money is about knowing that your helping people its very self rewarding to know that even if you have one victim if you saved somebody from being abused one night its all worth it," she said.

Belandres said, "It really is a difficult thing to have to deal with you're the need to be able to empathize with victims and their families of whatever traumatic crime has been committed upon them 259we look upon each other for that emotional support as well we don't just provide support for our victims but we also provide for each other."

The Guam Police Department's Crime Victims Assistance Unit was established in the 1990's. On average  Belandres and Rios make contact with more than 20 victims a week, that's each, combined that's almost two hundred cases in one month or that's 2,400 annually of cases their office alone responds to for crimes ranging from family violence, sexual assault and child abuse-the victims are mostly women and children.  More frightening we're only talking about cases that are actually reported. "So everyone may think with news and all these headlines that there's so much going on there's more than that people don't understand  when it comes to sexual assault for example its not like the movies where you don't know the offender you don't know the abuser a majority of these victims know there abusers. These are people they trust there are people living in their homes these are authoritative figures. So that's the reason why a lot of them wont come out. And that's where we come in we try to tell them that its going to b ok we want there voices to be heard its going to be okay we want them to be safe they're going to be safe. There's a lot of us out there that want to be there for you," she said.

All you have to do is pick up the phone.  Rios said, "We're available all the time if you need somebody and not necessarily to report to GPD but if you just need somebody to guide you and give you some information we are here. All the time holidays and weekends don't hesitate theres someone here that wants to help you," she said.

The number to call is 475-8620. Other numbers and organizations that you can call for help if you are a victim of crime: you can call Victims Advocates Reaching Out at 475-5552, Adult Protective Services at 653-8855 Child Protective Services as 475-2653, Sanctuary's crisis hotline at 475-7101, Andersen Air Force Bases Family Support Center at 366-8136, or Victims Witness Ayuda Services at the AG's Office. There number is 475-3324 ext 6020, 6030 or 6040.
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