Rose Brooks Center advocate recognized nationally for helping victims


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An advocate for the Rose Brooks Center is being recognized for her work. She received an award Thursday for using data to help victims get the resources they need.

“Domestic violence is a very real thing for Kansas City,” Commander Michelle Hon with the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department said.

There are many ways to save a life. For Cayla Waller, it’s about using data and building relationships to create change.

“We come alongside people who are experiencing trauma and we listen, and we meet them where they’re at. We help them define what they need,” Waller said.

She is the Lethality Assessment Coordinator for the Rose Brooks Center. The Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) is a program used by police officers, medical professionals, advocates, and others in the community that helps identify the severity of domestic violence situations. It is a survey where victim’s responses can tell if they are more likely to be seriously injured or killed by their partner.

Her work at Rose Brooks is being recognized by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence where the program was created. Thursday, Waller received the David M. Sargent Lethality Assessment Program Award. Those who are selected for the award are recognized for their exemplary dedication to the coordination and implementation of LAP.

“I was really surprised, and excited. It definitely came at a nice time for me. It was encouraging to know that what I’m doing is making a difference,” Waller siad.

Since Waller started in her position, there is a 30% increase in victims consenting to follow up. When victims talk with first responders and go through the survey they are asked if it’s possible to follow up with them later.

In the past three years 30% more people have agreed to follow up and learn about resources. According to Waller, victims who engage with the LAP program and accept resources are 60% less likely to be re-abused.

In 2021, Commander Hon said 15 people in Kansas City have lost their lives in a domestic violence incident.

“When we are trying to talk to these victims that they are at risk to be killed or murdered in this domestic violence relationship. That’s the reality we know because we’re literally having it happen here almost once or twice a month,” Hon said.

In 2020, Georgia Petsch, a beloved animal advocate, allegedly died at the hands of her partner. He is headed to trial in December. FOX4 met with Petsch’s friends in January of this year at KC Pet Project as they reunited with her two dogs.

“We had no idea that he was capable of being so violent,” her friend Blythe Edelman said.

“If only dogs could talk, If only they could talk, we would know so much. They would know everything,” her friend Andrea Kanobbe told FOX4.

Her friends and family believe the work Rose Brooks is doing can save lives.

“If it’s safe for you to reach out – reach out. If it’s not to us, or to law enforcement, find someone in the community you can talk to,” Waller said.

If you are in an abusive relationship and feel in danger please call 911 immediately. If you need help and resources to find a way out of your situation Waller says you can reach out to the Rose Brooks Center at 816-861-6100. There is someone ready to answer their help line 24 hours a day.

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