Although she was heavily involved in high school activities such as cheerleading, starring in school plays and getting good grades, the family life of a victim was another. story.
Jane Doe’s family consisted of her alcoholic father, manipulative and emotionally abusive older siblings, and a stay-at-home mom who made sure she was showered with love despite the inconveniences.
âMy mother was the only true love I had in my life. I was fortunate enough to know her for the 17 years I had before God brought her home,â Doe said.
She was confused, broken, and lived in constant fear. After Doe’s mother lost her battle with breast cancer, she felt more lonely than ever. Soon after, her father started dating a new wife and decided to sell his childhood home, leaving his daughter to fend for herself.
Doe found herself with friends more often, drank heavily, smoked cannabis, and began dating men who mirrored her father’s behavior.
After having children, she constantly trained and went on crazy diets to maintain the appearance of a trophy wife, only to be yelled at, gunned down and abandoned to raise her children on her own.
âI tried to make it work the best I knew how, just sitting there and looking pretty,â Doe said. “I thought if I was pretty and did what I was told to do, I would kind of realize my fairy tale of a happy family.”
To support herself and her children, she took a job in a bar.
After some time after working shift after shift at the bar, she had met a man who she thought could end the cycle of her insanity. She had finally decided to stop working and become a full-time stay-at-home mom and housewife. That was until she found out about her heavy methamphetamine addiction.
During that time, she had given birth to two baby boys, but the family had been homeless for five years because she said he preferred her addiction to her and their children. She had finally had enough.
âMy sobriety and his addiction were never going to mix. They weren’t supposed to mix, âshe said.
After staying strong on her own for so long, she decided to end the vicious cycle and made an important appeal to Sheltering Wings, a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
A place for new beginnings
Sheltering Wings, located in Danville, Indiana, has served its community since 2002 and currently has 40 residents, almost evenly split between women and children.
There, residents have the opportunity to escape their abusive relationships and rebuild themselves with protective housing and programs that residents can participate in.
Cassie Mecklenburg, Executive Director of Sheltering Wings, has worked with the shelter for eight years and oversees the administrative team and the direct services team. This includes fundraising, community relations, strategic planning and more.
âWhen people hear what I’m doing, they ask me or make a comment about how difficult it must be and the terrible reason we need an organization like this,â Mecklenburg said. “And while this is all true, what I find so inspiring about what we do is the tremendous amount of hope and opportunity for change.”
Some of these opportunities include adopting empowerment support groups, which consist of three stages, each of which must be completely completed before moving on to the next. The first is called Domestic Violence 101, a five-week course for residents of the shelter for less than 45 days. The second course is Self Love, an eight week course; the last course is Boundaries, another eight week course.
Outside of class, residents have their own private bedroom and bathroom to get away from it all if they wish, while having access to numerous bedrooms to make their stay as comfortable as possible.
At designated times, they can go to the fully equipped kitchen and pantry and prepare their own meals. While mothers prepare meals, children can occupy themselves in an annex room filled with toys and games.
There are also two laundry rooms located on both sides of the refuge for quicker access to cleaning clothes, a computer lab for all internet-related needs, and a chapel to help residents practice their faith.
Children and adolescents also have their own room to relax. The kids’ room has toys, games, and books for the little ones, while the teens have a sofa and TV for games on PlayStation, Xbox, and Wii.
All of this help can start with what’s called a crisis call. People in need can call the shelter’s emergency number, then come in and do a crisis assessment, answering questions that would qualify them for housing. Once approved, they have 24 hours to fully move into the shelter.
The average stay at Sheltering Wings is approximately 60 to 90 days. While there is technically no maximum length of stay for a resident, a person can get an extension every 30 days if they proactively work toward new goals such as finding affordable housing or starting a new job.
December 27 will be a year at Sheltering Wings for Doe. Since her stay, she has followed the programs, taken classes and therapy sessions, and even participated in group meetings to discuss progress.
For Donita Roberts, Events and Administration Coordinator for Sheltering Wings, getting to know the residents who are staying longer has a big impact on her.
âSome residents who stay longer get to know you,â said Roberts. âIt’s nice to get to know them and to interact better. This is what is impactful and meaningful. This is what keeps you going.
Know the numbers
According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, more than one in three women has experienced rape, physical violence and / or harassment by an intimate partner in her lifetime. Nationally, an average of three women are killed each day by a current or former intimate partner.
One organization that is working in several ways to prevent these numbers from rising is the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
There are seven barriers to surviving domestic violence according to the ICADV website. These barriers are overcrowded shelters, inability to pay utility bills or services, lack of education and skills training, limited safety nets, lack of housing, inaccessible legal assistance, and lack of resources. reliable transportation.
Laura Berry, Executive Director of ICADV for 27 years, has been involved and working with all 92 counties in Indiana to ensure programs and resources are available. This includes support programs providing education and training, quality assurance standards, technical assistance and legal services.
ICADV started a campaign called The Stigma Reduction Campaign because survivors wanted more public awareness about the impact and reduced shame and judgment of being a survivor.
âEverything we do tries to create safe, stable and nurturing environments from birth,â said Berry.
The legal side
According to WomensLaw.org, the laws that apply to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault come from state laws. This includes dealing with protection orders, divorce, custody, crimes, etc.
ICADV also strongly supports the legal aspect of domestic violence. By having a legal services program, it provides free services and representation to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, immigration and human trafficking.
Kerry Hyatt Bennett, Chief Legal Counsel of ICADV since 2005, helps guide approximately 65 centers with all legal matters as an individual business entity. For example, if someone from a shelter in Evansville has an emergency hearing coming up and does not have access to a lawyer, they can be referred to Hyatt Bennett and they will then help them find a lawyer in that area. .
âIt’s scary to go to court. It’s scary to go to court to represent you and it’s especially scary to go to court to represent you against someone who has hurt or threatened you, âHyatt Bennett said. âSo we kind of level the playing field by making sure they have a lawyer who is well trained in this area of ââthe law. “
Understanding the signs
In order to prevent domestic violence, a main tactic is to recognize the signs.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, signs for recognizing an abuser can include: the abuser telling you that you are never doing anything right, showing extreme jealousy towards your friends, or showing time away from home. ‘them ; preventing or discouraging you from spending time with friends, family or peers; insult, demean or humiliate you, especially in front of other people; preventing you from making your own decisions, including about work or school, and a few others.
One or two of these behaviors can be a red flag that the relationship may be abusive and it’s time to seek help.
NDVH also recognizes that relationships at first can seem perfect and that these behaviors may not always show up overnight. Every relationship is different, and domestic violence may not always seem to be the same.
Whatever the event or event, someone experiencing domestic violence and in need of immediate help can call the NDVH number, 1-800-799-SAFE or send a START SMS to 88788.
Doe recognized the red flags in her relationship and made the life-changing call. She never gave up.
âI kept going, no matter how badly things got or how many tears I shed,â Doe said. “There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to let the light inside you.”