SHERIDAN — Domestic violence affects the hearts and homes of many in Sheridan County. Since her start in 2010 working with social agencies in Sheridan, Susan Carr created a culture of collaboration to better and more holistically serve the victims of domestic violence.
That focus and need for collaboration turned into the Sheridan County Coalition Against Violence. Carr’s focus on collaboration as a means for addressing violence in the community gained her statewide recognition through the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault P.E.A.C.E. Award.
The award, Promoting Excellence in Advocacy for Change and Empowerment, goes to individuals or organizations who have worked as significant allies with the WCADVSA or improve services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Honorees also support local domestic violence and sexual assault programs and have contributed to promoting prevention to end violence against women in Wyoming. WCADVSA presented the Partners in Advocacy P.E.A.C.E. Award to Carr Tuesday night in Casper.
“When they told me I won it I was like ‘What, I’m just doing what everybody else does,’ and apparently a lot of communities don’t collaborate like this,” Carr said.
Carr said collaboration happened naturally when she needed assistance with her first experience dealing with a domestic violence case when starting with Compass Center for Families.
She called the Advocacy and Resource Center asking what she should do regarding a woman who had been raped and abused by her husband.
“Advocacy said, “How can we help?” Carr remembered, noting that the experience taught her to approach situations with a similar mindset.
Pretty soon, Carr started approaching child and adult abuse similarly.
“Violence in the home is violence in the home, whether it’s happening to adults, children, teens, elderly adults — it doesn’t matter. It’s violence.”
She made it the mission of Compass Center for Families to make a difference by partnering with like-minded agencies in the community to best help its citizens.
“I couldn’t envision a community where we weren’t all working together for the same goal,” Carr said.
Carr humbly assumed other communities dealt with the 100 percent preventable issue of domestic violence the same way and expressed shock when her efforts stood out enough to warrant an award.
“You go to different communities and apparently the collaboration we see in Sheridan isn’t the same in other places,” Carr said.
Carr received the award after three Sheridan community members submitted nomination letters to WCADVSA.
Bonnie Young, the executive director at the Advocacy and Resource Center, said working with Carr is a pleasure and she remains “willing to take on challenges of both programs with fierceness, humor and cooperation.”
Child Development Center Region II executive director Marsha Riley pointed to the collaboration and board participation with the CDC.
“Susan has been a fundamental leader in organizing local events to raise funds or awareness of programs,” Riley wrote in her nomination letter. “Under her dedicated leadership, Compass has grown to encompass five distinct programs and employ a larger team of professionals both in Sheridan and Johnson counties.
Debra Haar of Sheridan County Public Health also sent in a letter Carr’s behalf, saying Carr is a “strong, fierce and loyal advocate for the improvement of services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.”
Carr, while humbled by the honor, also recognized the significance of the award.
“It’s a really big deal,” Carr said. “…It’s really all about agencies working together because we’re tired of it.”