October 14, 2018

For the time it takes you to read this sentence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline will have received two calls from victims of abuse.

The leading victims of domestic violence are women, regardless of age, race, religion, nationality, educational background or economic status. One in three women experience abuse by their intimate partner.

On a national scale, one in four women will experience domestic or sexual violence. In Missouri, 140,000 domestic violence incidents were officially reported in 2012.

A parent could expect one of their four daughters to experience domestic violence.

A classmate could expect one or more of their female friends to experience domestic violence.

A homeowner could expect one of their adjacent female neighbors to experience domestic violence.

Walk away. Leave the relationships. Find a new place to live. Talk to someone. Get help.

How many mothers, daughters, and friends did not survive the last 24 hours at the hands of their perpetrator or abuser?

For a victim, leaving the abusive situation may be the most difficult decision of their life, even if it is to preserve their own life.

On average, a victim will return to the abuser seven times before successfully breaking the cycle. Resources, support, provision, finances, and safety are often the leading factors for leaving a situation.

Abusers use the power of fear to control the minds and emotions of victims.

If I leave, I will not survive. If I leave, I will lose my family. If I leave, I will be at fault.

In order to combat the fear of leaving, domestic violence shelters provide victims a safe place to escape. Shelters offer resources, support, counseling, safety, and family to the most vulnerable and in-need community members.

According to 79 shelters in Missouri, over 10,000 victims and their children received safe shelter, while 17,500 of those in need were turned away due to lack of resources.

The domestic violence shelter in Jefferson County, A Safe Place, a division of COMTREA, saw a 24 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 in families referred to other agencies because of full capacity.

A Safe Place, a division of COMTREA, was able to provide 6,289 nights of safety in 2017, but the demand greatly exceeds the shelter’s capacity.

Recognizing this crisis, a Friends of A Safe Place Foundation was created and launched a capital campaign for Mary’s House of Hope at A Safe Place with the purpose of building additional housing for survivors of domestic violence in Jefferson County.

The build will offer apartment style living spaces. Residents may stay for two years, as they participate in a self-empowerment program and receive counseling, employment assistance, support, and resources to transition to an independent, sustainable life.

Help break the cycle of domestic violence in Jefferson County by raising awareness, by talking about it openly, volunteering at A Safe Place domestic violence shelter, a division of COMTREA, and by donating to build transitional housing.

Learn more and donate to building housing for survivors at

If you are a victim of domestic violence, call the 24 hour national hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or A Safe Place, a division of COMTREA, at 636-232-2301.

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Primary Care Education - ou Mean I Can’t Have ANY Candy???

Dental Care Education

You Mean I Can’t Have ANY Candy???

October 6, 2018 by Sandra Holifield, Oral Health Outreach Manager 

With Halloween coming up, children will be getting that candy filled gleam in their eyes, trying to find the most popular costume, and start counting down the days until their “Candy Coma”.

So, is eating candy really that horrible?

The simple answer is no…if you follow some simple guidelines.

The bad thing about candy is the amount of sugar it contains. Most candy is made up of sugar, but the most popular and worst choices are based on sugar content, with nearly 40 grams or 7 teaspoons of sugar in each piece of candy!

Try this when you are at home - take a teaspoon and measure out 40 grams of sugar. That’s what a child will consume with each candy bar or sticky, chewy serving of their Halloween treats! Now, multiply that by 100, because if your child is anything like me as a child, they will gorge themselves until they fall into a sleep sugar coma.

How can I say that eating candy isn’t that horrible?

Well, like most things today, eating in moderation is important to consider. If your child has a huge pillowcase full of candy, find a great hiding place to store some of the candy.

The first and foremost tip to follow, whether candy is involved or not, is to have an established home care routine. This routine must involve proper technique, adequate time, and parental supervision and help. You shouldn’t expect little Billy at 4 years old to go into the bathroom and brush his teeth effectively.

Children typically do not have the dexterity and control to brush for themselves until they can write legibly, which is about 8-9 years old. For children who need to “do it myself”, you can allow them to brush, but always follow up and brush after them.

Are all candies the same when it comes to oral health? Simple answer…no.

Sticky, chewy candies tend to stick in the grooves of teeth longer and have the potential to cause more damage. The best candies would be the ones that melt quickly or can be ingested quickly.

However, these things won’t matter if your child is consuming candy constantly; the sugar will still sit on their teeth. Again, this is why you’ve already taken the pillowcase and found a great hiding place for it!

So, remember that Halloween is a fun time for kids, but should always be supervised and always, always be followed by proper brushing and flossing either with you or by you! Have a great and safe Halloween!

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Angela Evans, Community Victim Advocate at COMTREA's A Safe Place

Meet our familytrea

Angela Evans, Community Victim Advocate at COMTREA's A Safe Place

October 4, 2018 


I work with victims of domestic assault that occurred in Jefferson County. I am a representative stationed at the Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office (JCSO), and review all the intimate partner domestic assault reports. After reviewing report, I select cases to take on as a Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team (DVERT). I reach out to victims and share resources, support, intervention, and advocacy. Sometimes, victims just need to be heard, but I support them with safety planning, emergency shelters, referrals to other community services, assistance with filling out legal documents, and attending court hearings. Cases are reviewed in a monthly meeting which includes the Prosecuting Attorney, Prosecuting Attorney Victim’s Advocate, Probation & Parole, Private Probation, JCSO Victim Services, JCSO Detective/Lieutenant, Family & Drug Court Coordinator, ASP Manager, & myself.


I think it is important for victims to know they are not alone and that there is help out there. There are so many victims that “fall through the cracks” because the process can be so overwhelming and they may not know what to do or how to get help. So many will give up if they don’t have someone that believes in them, encourages them to believe in themselves, and helps them through a daunting and sometimes scary system. If I can help improve the lives of victims in our community by providing resources, support, intervention, and advocacy, then that will spread to others creating a positive chain effect! It is my hope that no victim feels unseen –that there are always options to any situation.


I am a survivor of domestic violence and would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the services I received from COMTREA and ASP. In 2004, I sought shelter at ASP to flee a domestic violence situation and my life was forever changed! That experience fueled my heart and passion to help other victims. I have been volunteering with ASP since 2006 by speaking out at various engagements and fundraisers, modeling in the former ASP fashion shows (fun, fun!), becoming an ASP Ambassador, and participating in different committees. I am currently the chair on the Friends of A Safe Place Advisory Committee and love every minute of it; all community members are welcome so contact me if interested.

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Meet Jen Heizer, Healthcare Home Nurse Care Manager

Meet our familytrea

Jen Heizer, Healthcare Home Nurse Care Manager

September 29, 2018

Meet Jen Heizer, Healthcare Home Nurse Care Manager. Heizer has worked for COMTREA for five years, and began as a Community Support Specialist.

In my role, I see behavioral health clients annually, and complete a head-to-toe health screening on them, covering all the bases of the individual both mentally and physically. I work daily on assisting individuals in accessing needed health care, behavioral health, and social services and supports. As a Nurse Care Manager, I serve clients with managing their mental illness, physical well-being, and other chronic conditions, and educate each client individually on working towards improving their general health and developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

My job is important to COMTREA and the community because I am a stepping stone for our clients. When I sit down with an individual for their health screening, I always begin with asking them to focus on their physical and medical health! My goal is to enlighten clients that taking care of your mental health is important, but not to neglect your medical and physical wellness. I encourage clients to step out of their comfort zones and visit their primary care physicians to talk about aches, pains, questions, and concerns. Prevention screenings such as yearly vision exams, dental exams and cleanings, and well-woman exams and mammograms are vital. I discuss and bring these to their attention in hope of them recognizing how important it is in achieving a comprehensive state of wellness.

I have lived in Festus all of my life! I attended Southeast Missouri State University after graduating from high school, and I have been a nurse for 11 years. I have two sons; there is never a dull moment at my house, and I know way more about Fortnite and NBA 2k18 than I care to admit! I love to cook, but require everyone stays out of my kitchen. I am one of those people that loves winter! It is the snow, ice, burning fireplace, comfy pajamas, warm fuzzy socks, soup, cookies, and hot chocolate.

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