A grant from the U.S. Department of Justice has allowed the Eastern Shoshone Tribe to establish a new Victim Services Program.
Stefani Wanner, the program's director, said it will support victims of crimes like domestic violence and sexual assault in ways the criminal justice system typically doesn't.
"Let's say it's a married couple and the woman is afraid to leave. She may need help to get a protection order to keep the abuser away or help finding a shelter. If they need counseling to get through the trauma, we can do a referral for that," Wanner said.
Wanner was hired to run the program in July and has since brought on two victim advocates. One of those advocates, Collette Tillman is a citizen of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. Tillman hopes her work will have an impact on the young people in her community.
"[Violence] is getting carried down generation to generation. We're in our seventh generation right now and I'm just thinking I don't want my grandchildren to see this, my grandchildren's grandchildren. The cycle needs to break somewhere," Tillman said.
The team has also been appointed to the Wyoming Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force, which was launched this summer by Gov. Mark Gordon. Wanner said one goal of the program is to address that problem by helping victims escape abusive situations sooner.
"If [victims] know they have help available and we can be there alongside them, our hope is to prevent it from reaching that point," Wanner said.
The program is still working out early-stage logistics, like drafting a mission statement and getting policies and procedures approved by the Eastern Shoshone Business Council. Wanner said it will be fully operational within the next month. For now, victims in need of resource referral can reach the program at 307-438-3306.