Providing a Safe Place for Women and Children at Our Crisis Shelter
Women and children who have lived in an environment of domestic violence or abuse need time to recover from living with tension and fear and a safe place to live. A crisis shelter for women and children is not just a place that is safe from danger, but also a space for healing. It takes more than the removal from threat for a family to be ready to begin a new life; counseling and information about next steps are essential. That is why a crisis shelter for women, like the one we offer at the YWCA, is so important for our community.
Space for Healing
Statistically, many victims of domestic abuse do not report violence in the home until it has gone on for a period of time. This can create a sense of hopelessness that takes time to overcome. However, when a victim is convinced that safety, help and the chance for a better life are really available, it makes all the difference. Many times a crisis shelter for women is the only place where all the resources necessary for rebuilding a life can be found.
Services for Rebuilding
Shelters routinely work in tandem with police, judicial representatives and social services to provide the range of support that children and mothers need to get a fresh start. Children can receive counseling and care while mothers meet with professionals who guide them through skills development, advocacy, financial instruction and more. The crisis shelter for women is a place where the various areas of support can converge to offer hope for a better life.
Spokesperson for Women’s Rights
Because shelters work through many situations on a daily basis, the teams at shelters have a powerful voice in advocating – even on a state or national level – for survivor services. No one knows better than the local crisis shelter staff and volunteers the challenges women and children face when escaping a domestic violence situation. The shelter staff and volunteers have a keen interest in promoting issues of women’s and children’s rights and are able to speak authoritatively on issues related to gender equality, the needs for social support services and the efficacy of police or judicial responses. In this sense, the local crisis shelter for women performs a much bigger service in addition to caring for individuals.
The YWCA Shelter in St. Joseph offers emergency housing for women and children and connects women to longer-term shelter for those who are working toward a new start. Many women and children who stay in our shelter have a difficult time securing employment and safe housing in the 60-90 day timeframe temporary emergency shelters provide. Our supported housing service, Bliss Manor, provides a place for women to begin the process of gaining self-sufficiency in a supportive atmosphere over a one to two-year period of time. Learn more today about the critical role the YWCA Shelter and housing resources fill in our community.
Bringing Attention to Domestic Violence in Our Community
For too many people in our community, home is a place of uncertainty, insecurity and where abuse occurs. Issues of domestic violence rob children, adults, friends and neighbors of dignity, peace and personal safety. To bring awareness to this critical issue in our community, and as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we host an annual event each October called Take Back the Night.
The Take Back the Night event was held this year on October 16. Community members whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence gathered to honor victims and look toward hope. Purple balloons were released into the sky as victim’s names were read aloud.
In addition to the ceremony, the reading of the names of victims and an official proclamation, the annual Take Back the Night event was also an opportunity for the YWCA to announce this year’s recipient of the Mary Jolly Award. The award goes to community members who take an active role in putting an end to domestic violence and/or who support those who suffer from its harm.
To learn more, visit ywcasj.org.
Bringing Awareness to Domestic Violence During National Week Without Violence
One-quarter of all women are touched by domestic violence, and as many as 20 percent will experience sexual assault in their life. This problem is the springboard for a worldwide Week Without Violence, a time set aside to bring awareness to the critical need to end violence against women.
While the largest statistics focus on domestic partner violence against women, there are other forms of violence impacting women today. Sexual assault is a crime that often goes under-reported as well as under-prosecuted. Consider too, the number of women and young girls trapped in human trafficking and the scope of violence against women begins to take shape as a staggering issue that demands attention and action. Young girls, women of color and those with disabilities face the greatest vulnerability. The Week Without Violence campaign helps recognize these critical issues.
The YWCA joins hands with partners around the globe during the third week of October to draw attention to this issue and to encourage work toward ending violence against women. This year, the St. Joseph YWCA will sponsor efforts to increase awareness, improve supports for survivors and help to sharpen the skills of law enforcement in dealing with issues of gender-based violence.
The community is invited to attend the Take Back the Night event on October 16 at 6 p.m. at the YWCA. Take Back the Night is an event to shed light on victims of domestic violence in our community and to remember victims that have passed away as a result of violence. Join us for a reading of the Domestic Violence Awareness Month Proclamation, the announcement of the Mary Jolly Award, an address made by the event’s speaker and a balloon release.
Events also include a one-day Week Without Violence conference hosted at MWSU. On October 17, a free morning session will be available to the public from 9 a.m.-12 p.m., offered for professionals that work with families and/or children. An afternoon session will be offered from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. exclusively to law enforcement officers.
Contact the St. Joseph YWCA today and sign up for the Week Without Violence conference and to learn how you can help make a difference in the lives of women and families in our community.
When and Why You Need to Talk About Domestic Violence With Your Children
If you are a victim of domestic violence and have children with you in the home, this can be a very difficult topic for discussion. The same is true if your children have visited a home where violence has occurred – or if they have friends who are experiencing violence in their own homes. Yet, no matter what your child’s age, they understand more than you may think and they need your help to properly process what they observe.
At What Age?
From a young age you can start talking with your child about the proper way to treat others. With very young children it can be good to emphasize that hands are intended for work, for love and for helping others – not for hurting others. The same goes for words. From the youngest ages children can be taught that words are to be used to help and encourage rather than to tear down and hurt. These kinds of conversations will provide your child with the correct frame of reference through which to filter things they may see or hear.
At What Time?
Be aware that if your child is witness to domestic violence, their natural inclination may be to blame themselves. It’s important that you reassure your child that abuse is never their fault. These are conversations that can take place at any time, not only when abuse occurs. If you notice that your child has inexplicable health complaints such as a headache or stomach ache – it could be that they are internalizing fears. This is definitely the time to make sure communication channels are open and that you find the strength to have an uncomfortable but necessary conversation.
At What Level?
Most experts suggest that you keep your conversations age-appropriate. Give necessary facts without getting into information beyond your child’s maturity level. It’s good to talk about how to take care of self and how to maintain appropriate boundaries at the level of your child’s current understanding. How you discuss domestic violence with your toddler will differ from how you talk about it with your middle school or teenage child.
At the St. Joseph YWCA we can offer you a safe place to talk about ways to discuss the issues of violence and abuse with kids. We can also provide a safe place for you and your children to go when you determine that it is time to leave a situation where abuse is present. We are here to help you and your children and provide you with a safe environment so you can take next steps toward hope. If you feel you or your children are in immediate danger please call 911 – and read more about our Victim Services, Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children, Bliss Manor or YWCA counseling programs today at www.ywcasj.org.
Domestic Violence is Believed Responsible for 8 Million Lost Work Days
Did you know that one of the most likely perpetrators of violence at work is often someone’s abusive domestic partner? Perhaps because these stories aren’t often told on the evening news, many employers have largely adopted a “wait and see” attitude toward domestic violence. It is important to be aware of how domestic violence can impact the workplace – and share this message with others.
Continued violent behavior is unlikely to remain contained in the home. Sooner or later the abuser will follow the partner to a predictable location – such as work and other places where they frequently travel. Experts highlight that a large number of those who are living with domestic abuse experience related issues at their place of employment.
Domestic violence also affects work performance. It is estimated that 8 million paid work days are lost due to this problem and close to 40 percent report difficulty finding and maintaining work because of domestic abuse. It’s a safety issue, a mental health issue and a productivity issue, and many workplaces are simply unprepared to deal with it.
While employers cannot resolve issues of domestic violence directly, they can offer survivors a safe place to investigate resources and options. Since most abuse shelters are contacted during mid-day business hours, it is likely that survivors may wait until the abusive partner is at work or they themselves are at work (and away from danger) in order to seek help. Employers who become aware of abusive relationships can let employees know that work hours are acceptable times to make calls they need to make to escape domestic violence.
It is important that your workplace have a written policy regarding domestic and sexual violence. You can find sample forms to help guide you in developing your own policy at http://www.workplacesrespond.org/. There are also online resources which can give advice about how to protect yourself while at work from the harassment of an abusive partner. The St Joseph YWCA provides shelter, counseling and can steer survivors toward other needed resources. If you or a co-worker close to you is confronted with the dangers of domestic violence, make the call to our YWCA crisis line. We’re here to support you.
Recognize the Warning Signs if an Employee or Co-Worker Might be a Victim of Domestic Violence
As much as we might not like to think about it, domestic violence happens and sometimes it happens to people we know and work with. Victims of domestic violence don’t always share their trauma. In fact, often they attempt to hide it. By becoming acquainted with common warning signs you can better understand behaviors that may otherwise be difficult to understand. Knowing what to look for can also put you in a better position for directing a victim toward help.
Common Signs of Domestic Violence
One sign of trouble is when a person comes to work with injuries that don’t appear to match with their story of what happened to cause the injury. If someone at work explains away black eyes and bruises, burns or broken bones by saying that they fall a lot or are just clumsy then it may be time for a closer look. If the person minimizes their repeated physical injuries this, too, could be a sign of domestic violence.
To avoid having to give explanations, the person may attempt to hide their injuries. Take note of unusual apparel choices such as long sleeves or turtlenecks in summer or wearing dark glasses in odd locations. Reluctance to share about the home environment or home relationships can also be a signal.
Even if you don’t see physical signs of abuse, there may be other clues that point to an abusive home situation. Distinct changes in work ethic can sometimes stem from issues of violence. If a characteristically on-time employee is repeatedly tardy or absent from work, if there are sudden change in their quality of work (errors, inability to focus or abnormal slowness in job performance) it could be related to trouble at home.
Other work-related signs of domestic violence include needing time off to attend court hearings and repeated and inappropriate interruptions at work by a partner in the form of abusive phone calls, emails or personal visits. You may also observe that the person becomes increasingly quiet and withdraws from coworkers. Even an excessive workload or unexpected overachievement can point to domestic violence, since the person may be burying themselves in work to escape relationship problems in the home.
At the YWCA we have several ways to help victims take steps toward hope and healing. We staff a 24-hour hotline that can be used by the victim or by someone else on their behalf. We also offer emergency shelter at no charge through our Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children. We provide victim advocacy services to offer support, help with transportation and information on available resources. We also provide confidential, professional counseling at no cost to participants. Don’t allow domestic violence to continue unchallenged. You can learn the signs and point victims toward real help. It may be happening to someone near you, and today we invite you to take action.
Men and women who are victims of domestic violence can feel trapped. Sometimes the fear of what will happen after they leave seems like the biggest hurdle to actually getting away from the situation. Physical abuse may be matched with verbal abuses that wear away at the victim’s self-esteem until they doubt they’d be able to make it on their own. Having a safe place to go and a support network who will speak truth and hope back into life can make all the difference.
One of the top finishers on the final season of American Idol, La’Porsha is from Mississippi and is a domestic violence survivor. As a young 18 year old, she met a man who was romantic and charming. But over time this man became abusive. He hurt her physically but he also tore at her identity. Piece by piece he berated everything she felt was key to who she was. Her hair wasn’t right. Her voice wasn’t right. Eventually she says she was left feeling like something other than a woman.
When she finally took her baby daughter and left, she had nowhere to go but the local woman’s shelter. There she found the courage to defy those messages of domestic violence. Within two months she was auditioning for a spot on American Idol. La’Porsha finished second in the competition and won a great deal of support and admiration in the process.
Finding Safety and Support
As La’Porsha’s story illustrates, abused partners may be crushed under the weight of lies. La’Porsha’s partner did not like her singing and vocally let her know consistently, yet she was talented enough to win a top spot in a nationally televised competition. Having some place safe to go and a supportive group enabled her to find the courage to reclaim her dreams.
At the St. Joseph YWCA we help women regain hope, build confidence and take next steps toward their goals as they heal from abuse. If you’re in an abusive relationship – you have somewhere to go. Our team is ready to help. If you know someone in an abusive relationship, encourage them to reach out to the YWCA St. Joseph as a first step toward a new start.
What to Know About Domestic Violence Victim Services in St. Joseph
Imagine you are a young woman, perhaps with a child or two, and your home is not a safe place. You may want to go somewhere that is safe but you aren’t sure how you can afford to support yourself and your children and it feels like you have no options. What would you do? Since 1981 the St Joseph YWCA has been there to help protect women against domestic violence. We provide a temporary shelter along with other services to help women and children escape danger and move forward with their lives.
Every nine seconds in the United States, another woman becomes a victim of physical abuse (Partnership Against Domestic Violence). That statistic translates into one quarter of all women in our country who are facing domestic violence at some point in their life. Many times the danger reaches a point where women have to escape the situation in a hurry, and then a new set of options and resources is needed to move forward. The YWCA is there to help on both fronts.
The YWCA staffs a 24-hour hotline victims can call when they feel afraid or endangered. Our local YWCA team is fully trained to receive these calls and give women information about safety planning and the options that are available. Often a hotline phone call is the entry point women utilize before accessing additional support services. We also offer a Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children as a resource to help prevent family homelessness. Victim Services also consists of the Rape Crisis program, professional counseling for victims, and the Bliss Manor Housing Program.
Women who reach out to the YWCA also have other tools for rebuilding their lives. We offer support groups, life skill groups, rape crisis assistance and referrals to further resources. Last year the YWCA St Joseph provided 1,354 professional counseling sessions, 6,650 hours of victim advocacy and 2,054 hours of case management. We housed 413 women and children for an average of a month and a half and led 266 support and educational groups.
It is crucial that we help women and children escape situations of domestic violence and find the tools they need to heal. Today in our country, over 3 million children have a front row seat to domestic violence every day. Furthermore, 40-70 percent of all female murder victims were first victims of domestic violence.
At the YWCA we offer all these services and more at no cost to women. We are on the front lines in terms of safeguarding women and children against violence in the home. We’re also busy restoring what’s been broken through abuse. Our team, volunteers and community partners work to give women a renewed sense of dignity by offering them help and hope. Find out how you can come alongside us in our mission today.