Joan Renshaw photo

Joan Renshaw, YWCA advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, at her 6th Street office in Kamiah.

KAMIAH — “I am an advocate for anyone who is affected by domestic violence, whether male or female,” said Joan Renshaw.

Renshaw, the advocate at the Kamiah office of the YWCA of Lewiston and Clarkston, continued, “No one deserves to be affected by violence at home.”

The YWCA (the Y) is funded by grants and donations. Renshaw noted that the offices in Grangeville, Kamiah and Orofino were added about 10 years ago to serve rural clients affected by domestic abuse or sexual assault.

Renshaw has worked at the YWCA since June 2019, after many years of working as a detective with Idaho County Sheriff’s office where she investigated child abuse, sexual abuse and domestic violence.

“When I was in law enforcement, I thought I was an advocate for victims,” she said. “Now I realize that I didn’t know what an advocate was until I began working for the Y.”

Renshaw said that safety is the first priority.

“Finding the client, and their children, safe shelter, food, clothing, furniture, legal aid, substance abuse programs, whatever they need,” is her goal. “It is so nice when community members can come together and share what they can offer,” Renshaw said. She appreciates that “so many community resources, churches, food banks, Loving hands are involved, to help, it’s endless.” Renshaw said that cash donations to the “Y” can provide some flexible assistance.

“Sometimes a small amount of money can help a client move forward,” said Renshaw.

“I’m thrilled to have this job. I am very passionate about what I do,” adding, “I am very busy, I have a lot of clients.” She made the point that they are not women’s libbers or against men. “We believe that everyone has a right to feel safe in their home. People may think that we only have women clients, but there has been a spike in men clients in the past few years,” according to Renshaw.

“The average woman goes back seven times to an abuser,” Renshaw said. “I help them with tools, to identify triggers so they won’t get hurt.” She continued, “Sometimes little things can bring stronger bonds within a family.” She will travel to the client’s homes and “try to think outside the box for them.” Some of her clients are women coming in from out of state, fleeing their abusers.

Renshaw said, “I encourage local law enforcement to call me if they have victims who need assistance.” She continued, “I have a great relationship with Lewis, Idaho and Clearwater county sheriff’s departments.”

Lewis County Sheriff, Jason Davis, really appreciates Renshaw and her advocacy work saying “Joan Renshaw is an amazing asset to law enforcement. She has seen the criminal side of domestic battery, through her years at the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, and now she is an amazing advocate for victims of domestic battery.” He added, “We know she will do everything in her power to assist victims. I love working with Joan. She is always available nights, weekends, holidays, whenever we need her.”

In addition to the advocacy work, the second part of her job is education. Renshaw said she would like to get out in the community more.

“One of my goals for the year is to form a human needs committee in Kamiah, similar to one in Grangeville,” Renshaw said. She envisions Community Action Partnership, Health and Welfare, Nez Perce Tribe, church organizations and others meeting as a group once a month, letting each member share what they have to contribute. As lessening of COVID restrictions allows for more in-person meetings, she plans to re-establish a support group for those affected by domestic violence.