Stephanie Link

Stephanie Link, violence and crisis intervention specialist for the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, stands with a sign made for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, co-created by her and students from Troy Buchanan High School. Link and the LCSO are holding a “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” meet and greet event on Oct. 28 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on the grounds in between the Lincoln County Justice Center and the Lincoln County Jail.

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month first started in October 1981 by the National Coalition against Domestic violence. 

“To change the tide of domestic violence, we need intervention specialists working in the field to help provide victims with domestic violence information,” Lincoln County Sheriff John Cottle said. “However, victims do not always act upon it, or find filing the court forms to be an uneasy process. Thus the domestic violence cycle continues in the home.” 

Sheriff Cottle has worked tirelessly to get the staffing levels back to numbers not seen since 2007, and his goal is to slow the cycle of violence and reduce the number of cases each year.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. It affects millions across the nation. Domestic violence also known as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), or Domestic abuse can affect any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, gender and even children and pets. Domestic violence affects everyone in the home. 

Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime. Victims of domestic violence lose a total of eight million days of paid work each year, which exceeds $8.3 billion per year.  

On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused, which equals about 10 million women and men each year. In 2019, Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies responded to 681 calls for domestic violence. 

As of the end of September, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department has received 525 calls for domestic violence, while the City of Troy has received 45 calls for domestic violence. That brings us to a total of 570 calls for domestic violence, and that doesn’t account for those who suffer in silence and may not have the capability to call for help. 

Domestic violence was an epidemic before COVID-19 with nearly one out of four women, and one out of seven men reporting that they experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. Unfortunately, the virus has dramatically exacerbated this widespread problem. 

Our homes are supposed to be a safe place to go, but during the national lockdown it has become even more dangerous for victims of domestic violence because they have become more isolated and stuck with their abusers. Reports of abuse have skyrocketed around the world. 

On the average, a domestic violence survivor attempts to leave about seven times before successfully ending the relationship. On a normal day, more than 200,000 calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines across the nation. On the average, there are about 3.3 million children in the U.S. who have been exposed to violence, therefore, having higher likelihood of hostility, anger, anxiety and mental health issues and thinking that domestic violence is acceptable. 

St. Louis County Police said that their calls are 17% higher than this time last year. St. Charles County Police report that their calls are up 64%. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office stated their domestic assault cases have increased by 43%. 

Even though the COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifting, unfortunately, the abuse will not end. The community needs your support more than ever by openly talking about abuse removing the shame, blame and stigma of abuse, supporting our local survivors, holding the abusers accountable and engaging everyone.

WOMEN AND MEN TO HELP STAND TOGETHER TO END THIS VIOLENCE IN OUR COMMUNITIES IS IMPORTANT.

Sheriff Cottle has wanted to build a program for our community affected by domestic violence for the past five years. He hired Stephanie Link after she volunteered during the pandemic to assist the department and victims putting by her on the front line. Sheriff Cottle had the desire to build a program with Link standing together to help change our local community by providing on scene support and follow up for victims. 

Link is a hometown face of Lincoln County. She graduated from Troy Buchanan in 2003, and her family moved to the area after the floods of 1993, where she settled into the county area with her parents Bruce and Sherry Link and her siblings Steven and Heather Link. 

Link decided to come back to help be a voice for others in the community after going through her own domestic violence experience and one of Lincoln County’s deputies came to help her. The Lincoln County deputy provided her information on domestic violence. From that day forward, she has never looked in her rearview mirror, except to smile at how far she has come. She was determined to be a better role model for her daughter and stand up for her human rights. 

Link decided to go back to school to become a victim advocate, and was excited when in 2017 she graduated on the dean’s list with her victimology degree. She interned at the Megan Meier Foundation. 

She said Tina Meier taught her that, “In order to be the change in the world, you have to stand up for what you believe in, and at the end of the day, remember what you’re fighting for. Some battles are more uphill than others, but every storm eventually runs out of rain.” 

Link said that Tina Meier has been one of the biggest inspirations and motivators in her career to keep pushing forward to help others in need and those whom she has met along the way that also experienced domestic violence but felt unheard or forgotten. She also said she wants to stand up and be the voice for the silent, the strength for the weak and the advocate for those forgotten. Link was a domestic violence and sexual assault advocate for Lincoln and St. Charles County for about a year and jumped at the chance to work the front lines with the sheriff’s department for those affected by domestic violence. 

Link wants to help shed light on the darkness of domestic violence in the community she grew up in. She says her favorite quote is “faith over fear,” and “you can’t see the wind either but it’s there.” 

Sheriff Cottle hired Link in June, in which she then left preferred family healthcare to work for LCSO as the Violence and Crisis Intervention Specialist. She continues to partner with PFH and other agencies such as DFS, the Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorneys office, Rising Phoenix, Turning Point, PALS animal shelter and local churches to assist victims in our community.

Sheriff Cottle and LCSO VCIS Link are holding a “LOVE SHOULDN’T HURT” meet and greet/display event on Oct. 28 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on the grounds in between the Lincoln County Justice Center and the Lincoln County Jail on Business Park Drive in Troy. 

Stephanie and Katie from the PA’s office are planning on dressing up as a superheroes to handing out candy to kiddos! Everyone is welcome, so bring yourselves and the kids(in costume if would  like) to help Sheriff Cottle, Stephanie & the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department stand together against domestic violence in our community as it effects everyone in the home. Everyone will also get a chance to meet “Lincoln Moon Cottle” the Sheriff’s department new therapy dog in training, graciously provided by Jessica with W6 POMSKIS out of Georgia. “Lincoln” was purchased and sponsored by FITTHEORM kickboxing studio in Lake St. Louis where Stephanie is a kickboxing fitness coach. 

To those whom have experienced or experiencing domestic violence; even when you may feel your situation may feel hopeless, there is hope and everyone deserves to be healthy, happy and safe free from abuse and we are here to help.