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Victim Assistance Office is here to help protect you from abuse

by Joshua Turner | March 28, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
The Victim Assistance Office can be seen at 204 West Calhoun Street. (Joshua Turner / Banner News)

The Columbia County Victim Assistance Office is still available to residents.

The office provides victims of domestic abuse help in filing an order of protection for free.

An order of protection is a court order that protects victims from domestic violence. It can be issued by a judge if they are being beaten or threatened by their spouse, ex-spouse, current live-in or ex-live-in, someone they have had a child with, someone they are dating or have dated, or another family member, including in-laws.

The office is run by Victim Assistance Coordinator Darla Longino who said her office was in danger of losing funding last year.

"We apply for a grant every one to two years, If we didn't get the grant, there would be no Victim Assistance Office," said Longino.

The office also receives limited funding through Arkansas Act 1256 as well as receiving the office building and cost of utilities at the expense of Columbia County.

According to Longino, she is not a county employee.

Arkansas Act 1256 provides funding for victim assistance programs through the Arkansas Crime Victims Compensation Fund. The fund is supported by a portion of the state's criminal fines and fees. The act increases the amount of money that can be awarded to victims of crime and expands the types of services that can be provided by victim assistance programs.

"We've already been informed to get ready for another cut. We used to have six People. We have six counties. Every county had a Victim Assistance Coordinator. Now there's three of us covering six counties," Longino said.

Longino only covers Columbia Count but said that the Union and Ouachita County coordinators cover multiple counties within the 13th Judicial District.

Victims of domestic abuse who are seeking assistance can start by calling the Victim's Assistance Office at 870-901-3547 and setting up an appointment with Longino.

Longino visits both criminal and domestic courts every month to help support the victims she works with and may be out of the office at times.

Victims will meet with Longino at her office at 204 West Calhoun Street, victims can file an affidavit and petition which she will file with the appropriate county offices.

The judge will then choose to grant or deny a temporary order of protection based on the affidavit.

After the temporary order has been granted the abuser will be served by law enforcement local to the address the victim gives for the abuser and a hearing will be set.

The victim and abuser must then appear at the hearing and can present evidence and testimony for their case,

The judge will choose whether or not to grant a final order of protection which can last up to 10 years.

Victims that do not appear can be charged a $165 filing fee and a $50 fee to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.

If the order of protection is violated victims can call law enforcement and request an Affidavit For Warrant of Arrest.

The prosecuting attorney can then pursue the arrest which would hold a sentence of up to one year in prison and up to a $2,500 fine.

Updates on cases can be found at

Women in Columbia County can also contact Compassion's Foundation at 870-235-1415.

Victims of domestic abuse can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit their website at They can provide information and support.

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