METRO offers refuge, help to survivors of abuse

Established in 1986, Metro Centers for Community Advocacy (METRO) offers a helping hand and guiding light for victims of domestic violence.

Formerly known as the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children, METRO offers free and confidential services for survivors of abuse and sexual assault, including counseling and shelter. METRO also offers services for those victimized by stalkers.

METRO’s domestic violence program is broken down into two categories – residential and non-residential, depending on if the survivor and/or their family needs shelter. The program includes case management and counseling for not just the victim of the abuse, but also to family, for example a child that may have been exposed to domestic violence.

METRO also employs a part-time attorney who can work with a family to secure a temporary restraining order, help with necessary paperwork and accompany them to court.

The organization also holds public outreach presentations to a diverse set of audiences on the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking. These audiences include schools, staff and students, police departments, social groups, medical professionals, military, churches and social service agencies.

The group’s Community Educator addresses the core issues related to these subjects. Prevention and awareness are the primary goals of these presentations.

The goal is to educate and re-educate the public by dispelling myth, creating awareness and offering some social change solutions that will, in the end, reduce the number of future incidents.

According to spokeswoman Darlene Santana, METRO also offers a medical advocacy program in which a volunteer arrives at the hospital for a survivor of abuse to give guidance, answer questions or even to simply provide comfort.

“It’s a non-medical person who is there to hold a hand and be an impartial friend,” Santana said. “Sometimes, that’s for a family member or parent who is processing what’s happened. We can offer any resources needed, if possible, and it allows doctors and nurses to focus on what they’re doing while we’re focused on the psychological-social part of it.”

Santana noted United Way of St. Charles provides great assistance, including by providing funding that helps pay the salary of advocates, provide additional services for victims and for METRO’s home building.

METRO staff and volunteers are trained in crisis intervention and can offer limited placement in emergency shelters and make appropriate referrals. Both individual and group counseling is available for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, or stalking.

To reach METRO’s 24 hour crisis hotline for emergency counseling and assistance, call (504) 837-5400. For further information, visit


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