“A call to Choices puts you in contact with help and hope.”
This promise, prominently displayed on every page of their website, offers support to survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and rape. Choices of Page County was formed in 1986 to provide aid to women and children looking for ways out of dangerous situations through advocacy, legal work, shelter, and counseling.
“Without our services, I believe the women and children will become victims, not survivors,” said Tina Knupp.
Knupp came to Choices as an intern from Blue Ridge Community College in 2003 and became part-time staff in 2004. She now serves as the nonprofit’s Sexual Assault Victim Advocate, making her one of the few but dedicated full time staff members. Average turnover rate at Choices is every 13 years, allowing workers to develop full expertise handling cases, engage in community advocacy, and establish collaborative relationships with their clients.
As an advocate for survivors, Knupp guides clients through the criminal justice process and, if they desire, the medical system. She also serves as a crisis counselor.
“Having people trust me with their darkest secrets and deepest pain is most rewarding,” said Knupp.
But the work of Choices extends beyond direct crisis intervention. A vital part of their mission is to provide education to the community in order to reduce the need for such interventions.
“The rural culture keeps these topics silent,” said Knupp. “What happens in the family stays in the family.”
Knupp is certified through the Department of Criminal Justice to train allied professionals on sexual and domestic violence and law. Outside of the professional world, Choices brings education about healthy relationships to Page County Public Schools.
“Citizens can alleviate the issues by recognizing that domestic violence and sexual violence exist in this community,” said Knupp.