Intervening to End Domestic Violence
Just in time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence released their annual domestic violence homicide report for 2010. The deaths in Wisconsin totaled 58, that’s an average of about one death each week due to domestic violence. And though that number was down in comparison to 2009, it is still the second highest number of homicides in the report’s ten-year history.
Hope House of South Central Wisconsin provides free shelter and advocacy to victims of domestic violence and regularly sees the risk of fatality. Women disclose that without Hope House their abusers may have killed them. Other women disclose that the abuse they experienced was so unbearable that if they hadn’t connected with Hope House, they may have killed their abuser. Intervention services for victims of domestic violence are critical to reducing these deaths and providing safety and renewal.
Beyond providing emergency shelter, Hope House provides individual counseling – advocates discuss safety planning, healthy coping strategies, options counseling, information and resource sharing, and referrals to other helpful agencies. Advocates accompany victims to court hearings and Sexual Assault Nurse Examinations and participate in a 24/7 on-call emergency response. An attorney on staff provides information on family law issues and, in some cases, provides representation for restraining orders. Support groups are provided for adults, kids, and teens. A 24-hour confidential helpline (1-800-584-6790) is available for victims, family members or friends of victims, and for service providers.
Effective domestic violence intervention requires a coordinated effort by multiple agencies. Hope House is a part of several county-wide Coordinated Community Response (CCR) teams. These teams work to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable by identifying gaps in the system and collaborating on victim-centered and trauma-informed protocols. Members include Hope House, law enforcement, health care providers, prosecution, human services, school staff, clergy, and more.
In addition to these intervention efforts, education is necessary for ending the intergenerational cycle of violence. In the last few years, Hope House has given student presentations at all 23 public school districts in their five-county service area. Their Education Coordinator teaches students about bullying, internet safety, healthy relationships, dating violence, gender roles and violence, bystander intervention, and more. These prevention efforts strive to teach students the value of respect and empathy and the skills for safely intervening violence – to raise a generation that will not tolerate domestic violence.
Since 2000, 15 people have died as a result of domestic violence in Hope House’s five-county service area. In order to honor these victims and observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Hope House is holding an Open House on October 11 from 5-7pm at their new location, 720 Ash Street in Baraboo.
Though Hope House is about to move its shelter into the new building, they are still raising money to pay for the purchase and renovations. A long term mortgage loan for $225,000 was used to purchase the building. A $51,536 contribution from Geraldine Berndt and $90,000 in Hope House reserves helped launch renovations. Geraldine had helped fund Hope House’s current shelter building in the 1980s and was so committed to the cause that she designated a portion of her Charitable Remainder Trust to Hope House at the time of her death. Individuals and businesses have generously contributed or pledged $146,782 to date and a construction loan for $118,451 kept the project moving forward.
To complete Phase One of the Capital Campaign, an additional $21,703 must be raised or borrowed in 2011. In 2012 and 2013, Phase Two of the Capital Campaign, will focus efforts on paying down the construction loan. Hope House is confident that the community will continue to contribute and support its mission of ending domestic violence.