On their side

When the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center switched to shelter-only services, it had to stop its outreach programming and focus everything on keeping clients safe while using their services.

But thanks to help from another program in Mason City, D/SAOC is still able to provide outreach services for clients.

Kelsey Riley, a counselor with Crisis Intervention Services, works out of the D/SAOC shelter to provide outreach services in the Webster County area.

Though the program is based in Mason City, Riley, a sexual assault advocate, said she and the other advocate both live in Fort Dodge.

“I never thought that I would end up being an advocate,” she said.

Riley decided to go into counseling after working at a residential facility after college.

“I graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology and then started working with children in two residential facilities,” Riley said. “Everyone there was either a witness or a victim to abuse, and I got to see how everything was connected.”

Riley added that when she was in high school she worked with a group called Empowerment, which was a peer educating group D/SAOC sponsored.

She said that it’s difficult to say what an “average” day is like.

“I never know what to expect,” she said. “One day I might expect to be boring but I’ll end up getting six calls I need to respond to.”

She also has regular responsibilities.

“I usually do a little bit of everything,” she said. “I attend (Webster County) magistrate every morning so we get an idea of what’s coming up. I get in touch with clients and provide community education.”

Riley also works on-call, responding to Trinity Regional Medical Center whenever a call about a sexual assault comes in.

“I also go through lots of training,” she said. “That allows me to be well-rounded in different issues.”

Though the job does have its challenges, Riley said she finds working with sexual abuse victims rewarding.

“I enjoy being able to get a person whatever they need at that time,” she said. “I’m able to give them a stepping-stone to hopefully make them realize they need to get away from their perpetrator.”

She also enjoys working with clients.

“Everyone wants to share their story with you,” she said. “Some people might find that surprising, but a lot of people want to talk.”