Woman offers free violence counseling

William Thompson

“I would say we have a pretty big domestic violence problem here in Tucumcari,” said Ronni Wright, “and it doesn’t seem to matter what ethnic background people are from or how much money they make. The number of people I see varies month to month. In one recent month I counseled 35 individuals.”

The Tucumcari Domestic Violence Program operates out of the basement of the Quay County Courthouse. Ronni Wright is the lone domestic violence advocate who counsels clients for the program. She said she sees clients from all walks of life. Wright said that when a person, male or female, comes in for counseling, she will try to persuade that person to get their domestic partner to come into counseling as well. “I encourage the person’s spouse or dating partner to come in and get counseling too,” she said. “I will only counsel one individual at a time, however, because when two people are being counseled in one session, one person may attempt to take charge and do all the talking or one person may feel intimidated and not speak up.” Wright said she deals with male victims of abuse as well as female victims. “Both men and women are abused in all sorts of relationships,” said Wright. “I offer the same options to men that I offer to women. I even talk with children involved in domestic violence situatuions.”

Wright said she can offer legal options to her clients as well as other options involving a person’s safety and welfare.
“I offer legal options if needed,” said Wright. “I can arrange for a person to move into a shelter or a safe house for the night. I can help a person obtain an order of protection (similar to a restraining order). As far as individual counseling, Wright said she draws heavily from credible anger management research models for her counseling strategies. “We look at alternatives to violence by exploring ways to manage anger,” she said. “We also work on jealousy issues by working on self-esteem. Finances also enter into domestic violence situations. I can offer couples help with budgeting finances. We concentrate on many life skills.”

Wright said she knows how to maintain her professionalism in the face of the highly charged emotions she deals with in working with domestic violence clients.
“I empathize with everyone I counsel,” said Wright. “I care about the people I counsel, but I am able to maintain a professional distance.” Wright said she feels her efforts have been “fairly successful.” “I get positive feedback,” said Wright. “I’ve helped people and they have come back and told me they want to learn how to help others. I’ve even had abusers who have changed and told me they are willing to help others with abusive personalities.”

Wright said that when physical violence is involved, she is not opposed to jail time for some violent offenders.
“I think counseling is a deterrent,’ she said, “but sometimes jail time can be a deterrent as well. I know people who have said that the jail time benefitted them, especially if they chose to undergo counseling while in jail.” Wright said that everything a person tells her in counseling is strictly confidential. “I keep everything confidential. I have to. I am required by state law to keep everything confidential,” she said.”The only time I would ever notify authorities is if I thought some one was in immediate danger of harming his or herself.”