By Doris Cooper
Kyle Jarvis carries a medallion engraved with the word HOPE. In his world, it means, “Hold On. Pain Ends.” He should know. He’s seen both sides.
Abuse he both endured and witnessed for much of his first two decades of life reaches far beyond what any youngster should experience. Jarvis credits his ability to recover to one of his teachers, who followed her instincts and encouraged his mother to reach out to CVIC.
“We had very little money,” Jarvis said. “I don’t think we would have been able to afford these services without CVIC’s help. My therapist really helped me to see that this entire situation was not my fault, that what I understood as normal was far from what any kid should experience.”
Now, almost 30 years old, Jarvis is on the other side of violence, thankful for his connections with CVIC. “What I would tell any client considering services at CVIC is not to be afraid to ask for help. We all need help. No one does this alone. You’re not alone.”
Jarvis is one of the estimated 9,000 adults in the region who have experienced domestic or sexual violence in their lifetime—harming not only individuals and families, but also preventing communities from thriving.
The staff of 80 at the Community Violence Intervention Center (CVIC) is on a mission to change the trajectory and end interpersonal violence in Greater Grand Forks, in two generations.
“We realize this is an aggressive vision,” said President/CEO Coiya Tompkins, “however, we truly believe the communities we serve deserve to thrive and that we can overcome violence and its impacts.”
Since opening in 1980, CVIC has evolved from a crisis agency with a domestic violence shelter to the region’s leading intervention and prevention agency supporting children and adults impacted by interpersonal violence.
CVIC now provides holistic services to support nearly 3,000 people each year who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence, individuals who cause harm, and children impacted by violence in their homes. A robust prevention education program reaches thousands of youth and adults.
Every person deserves to live a life free of violence.
Perhaps best known locally for its domestic violence shelter and crisis support services, CVIC’s commitment to provide comprehensive safety services is unparalleled.
“Many people don’t realize the breadth of what we do to support victims in an effort to keep families safe and stabilize their lives,” said Tompkins.
CVIC’s comprehensive safety services include:
• 24x7 crisis response and emergency shelter
• Long-term safety and stability support including securing safe, affordable housing and realizing education or employment goals
• Supervised visitations and exchanges promoting healthy parent-child interactions in a safe environment
• Legal assistance, including help with protection orders and some legal representation
• Crime victim advocacy for victims of all personal crimes including burglary, theft, domestic or sexual violence, and others
• Programs for individuals who cause harm in relationships to address the use of violence and encourage accountability
Specialized support heals the impact of trauma so individuals can thrive.
Based on research, CVIC estimates at least 1,700 children in the region suffer from significant trauma resulting from experiences with violence, causing them to be three times more likely to fail at school, seven times more likely to become addicted to alcohol or drugs, and 12 times more likely to attempt suicide.
CVIC is one of the few places in the region to specialize exclusively in providing trauma-informed therapy that help people address debilitating effects of domestic or sexual violence.
“There is something tragically wrong when kids as young as nine are contemplating suicide because they believe abuse is their fault,” Tompkins said, “or when a parent is crippled with anxiety and depression because they’ve been convinced they will never be ‘good enough.’”
In 2021, 98 percent of adults and 100 percent of youth reported improved emotional well-being as a result of therapy they received from CVIC. “The agency’s focus on healing has a life-changing impact,” said Tompkins.
Because violence is predictable it is also preventable.
For nearly 10 years, CVIC has been on the leading edge of educating youth and the community about how to have healthy relationships, reaching thousands each year with programs in nearly every public school in the county from elementary through high schools, as well as on the UND campus.
Three years ago, CVIC spearheaded the implementation of Green Dot, a national bystander intervention program aimed at involving residents to be part of the solution to end power-based violence.
“Our prevention work is the integral link to ending future violence. As we teach our communities about healthy relationships and equip people with skills and knowledge, we believe we can change the trajectory of violence in our communities,” Tompkins said.
Partner to protect and prevent.
CVIC partners with public schools, law enforcement, criminal justice, county/city leaders, health care, social services and other agencies to support individuals impacted by violence and promote prevention and intervention.
At a recent CVIC event, Manvel Public School Principal Melissa Hiltner said, “The partnership we have with CVIC has been so wonderful because they offer therapy services for our students, they come in and do classes so students can see what a healthy relationship looks like. We have really appreciated our partnership and the help they give our students … helping kids know they are safe and that we are there for them.”
“These meaningful partnerships, along with compassionate donors and volunteers, make it possible for CVIC to approach violence intervention and prevention in ways that enable individuals, families and communities to thrive,” Tompkins said. “CVIC never works alone and thankfully, our clients don’t either.”
If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic or sexual violence, contact CVIC 24-hours a day through its crisis line at 701-746-8900 or visit cviconline.org for more information about free and confidential services or to learn how you can help transform lives in Greater Grand Forks. G
Guardians changing the face of violence – for good
Coiya Tompkins, who took the helm of CVIC in 2019, was immediately inspired by the people and stories that shaped a 40-year-old organization that has served tens of thousands of people.
A newly released book authored by Tompkins profiles more than 60 people
instrumental in shaping CVIC’s prevention and intervention work in the community.
“I love that 'community' is in our name because it truly was a community effort that got us here, and this same teamwork will be what helps us transition to the next phases of work to end interpersonal violence,” she said.
"Two-Generation Guardians: Changing the Face of Violence – for Good" is available online at cviconline.org.
// To view the full story, check out the digital issue here
From Issue 1, 2022
PHOTOS Submitted By CVIC