Q&A: Lisa Higginbotham, director of the new Enough! volunteer program at the YWCA Knoxville

Lisa Higginbotham will direct the new Enough! volunteer program at the YWCA Knoxville. Volunteers will answer phones, observe court proceedings, help educate the community, and help victims of domestic violence create individualized safety plans, understand their rights, navigate the legal system—particularly orders of protection—and access community resources.

What will be the focus for Enough! volunteers?

They will assist in the YWCA's work to prevent domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking. It is a part of the YWCA Victim Advocacy Program, which has led the charge against domestic violence in Knox County since 1988. This program is the only one that advocates for victims that has advocates in both civil and criminal courts, and it includes advocates and support-group facilitators who speak both English and Spanish.

How widespread is domestic violence in this area?

One in four women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives, and 74 percent of Americans personally know someone who has experienced domestic violence. Locally, in 2010, the Knoxville Police Department and Knox County Sheriff's Office responded to more than one domestic violence call every 30 minutes, a total of 19,043 calls.

Are there barriers we might not think about that keep a victim from getting help?

Many victims become isolated in an abusive relationship. This may be due to language and cultural barriers, a lack of transportation, financial resources, childcare—or they may have a disability, or be held back from getting aid because of the social stigma. Many victims share that they are reluctant to come forward to report abuse because they have feelings of shame or guilt. Also, victims are reluctant to come forward for help because they fear reporting will make things worse.

How many volunteers do you need?

We are looking for volunteers to assist with victim advocacy, court support, childcare, support group, special events/awareness projects, and community education. We want as many as come forward and want to help.

Is it a big time commitment?

We ask for a one year commitment for a minimum of 12 hours monthly.

What kind of training is required?

We want our volunteers to be aware and competent on the best ways to serve victims and ensure their safety. We expect that training will be a minimum of 30 hours annually. And qualified applicants will need to be interviewed and complete a background check.

Are men welcome to volunteer?

Men and women of all backgrounds are welcome, and bilingual volunteers are encouraged to apply.

Have you gotten any interest from former victims of domestic abuse?

We have had interest from survivors and family members of those who have been abused. Many express that they want to be involved in solving this community problem and are excited about the opportunity.

Those interested in volunteering for Enough! should fill out an online application at ywcaknox.com or call 865-523-6126 week days between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. to speak to Teri.