Guest Column: People can be architects of their own lives

Published 9:00 am Sunday, October 30, 2016

Live United by Gema Alvarado-Guerrero

Gema Alvarado-Guerrero is the executive director for the Parenting Resource Center Inc. that services both Mower and Freeborn County. To learn more, please contact her at (507) 437-8330 or via email at

Gema Alvarado-Guerrero

Gema Alvarado-Guerrero

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Domestic violence is not a family problem; it is a public safety issue. It knows no barriers; it’s seen across every race, gender, sex, religion  and socioeconomic status. In fact, per the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one out of every three women and one out of every four men have been victims of some sort of physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Isn’t that just devastating? Whether we are area professionals, community members, victims or survivors, we all hold an important role when it comes to addressing this issue. Why? Because domestic violence thrives when we are silent. If you are an area professional and have not yet done so, become aware of the signs and symptoms of possible abuse. Symptoms may include agitation, a constant sense of alertness, a sense of hopelessness, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, restless sleep or lack of sleep, chronic pain and/or back pain, to name just a few. If you are a victim, know that though it may seem impossible, you can change your destination. I was once told by a very wise friend that we are the architects of our lives; in other words, we can create our life path. We hold that control. Sometimes we may trip and fall, or stray away from our path, but it is never too late. It all begins with deciding to take the first step. You can take this first step by contacting the Crime Victims Crisis Center in Albert Lea, which provides aid for orders for protection and harassment restraining orders, educational groups for women, assistance with filing reparation applications and groups for children who witness violence. They can also help advocate for you and accompany you to court.

Oftentimes, households who experience domestic violence have children. Domestic violence poses a serious threat to a child’s overall well-being, as they can experience anxiety, difficulty concentrating, nightmares, increased violent behavior, physical health problems, and, in the long-term, possible behavioral problems in adolescence and/or emotional instability as adults.

That is where the Michael H. Seibel Visitation and Exchange Center in Austin can step in and help. As the name suggests, the Seibel Center facilitates visitations and exchanges of children by and between custodial and noncustodial parents, while providing safety features that have made it a nationally recognized center. We run under the principles that every family presents a unique set of circumstances every time they access services and that every individual served has a right to feel safe and secure and feel respected while utilizing our services. Since opening our doors in 2008, the Seibel Center has served over 1,000 children and continues to serve children from Mower, Freeborn and surrounding counties. We have also served families from South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Arizona. To get started using services or to learn more about how we can best help you, please contact our main office. Our business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information on the Michael H. Seibel Visitation and Exchange Center, please call 507-434-7550.

To contact the Crime Victims Crisis Center 24-hour service line, please call 507-373-2223.