Domestic abuse destroying society today

Did you know domestic abuse is one of the most destructive forces in today’s society? Every nine seconds in the United States, a woman is beaten by a familiar partner, and one in four women are likely to experience domestic violence in their life. Only half of all domestic violence incidents are reported to law enforcement, and even fewer for sexual assaults.

Safe Haven Executive Director Stacey Cicero commented: “Demand for shelter services in 2017 was 23 percent greater than in 2016. The shelter was occupied to optimal capacity (five families, one to each room) or overcapacity (families shared rooms). In the last quarter of 2017, shelter was at or over optimal capacity 99 percent of the time, only one day during that time frame had less than five families.

“Although shelter programming is the most visible and expensive part of programming,” Cicero said, “88 percent of our clients are actually outreach participants that don’t stay in the emergency shelter, but use our other programming, which includes individual therapy, appointments, support groups, legal assistance and referral. This is a stark reminder that many people face life-or-death situations in their own homes, a place where they should feel most safe.”

Domestic violence can affect anyone at any age or gender. It can be physical, sexual, emotional or financial.

The most common type of abuse is physical. It includes hitting, shoving, kicking, punching, throwing things and other types of physical harm. It generally starts out with a push or a slap and eventually escalates to punching and beatings.

Abusers generally apologize to the victim, promising it won’t happen again, but it does. It is a cycle and the victim often stays with the abuser until the abuse becomes life threatening. Having been a domestic violence volunteer for several years, I have witnessed the torment a victim goes through. They often love the abuser and return to the abuser several times before realizing they can’t live like that.

Domestic violence is often about control. Emotional violence is when the abuser yells, demeans and attempts to destroy the victim’s sense of self-respect. Often, it involves constant criticism designed to humiliate and belittle the victim. It often includes isolating the victim from friends and family and controlling what the victim can or cannot do.

Sexual violence is when one of the partners forces another to do something sexual they do not want to do. This type of abuse includes rape and sexual assault.

Financial violence is when the victim does not have any access to financial documents, bank accounts, etc. He or she cannot buy or pay for anything. Therefore, the victim has to count on someone else, generally the abuser. Not allowing a spouse to get an education or to work outside the home is another form of financial abuse.

Sometimes victims don’t even realize that what is happening to them isn’t normal. Some people suffer in silence.

If you are a family member, neighbor or friend who feels someone is experiencing some type of domestic violence, just let them know you are there to help them. It is important for them to feel somebody’s support. Sometimes a victim suffers in silence because they have nowhere to go. Let them know Safe Haven is available for victims of abuse 24/7. They are located at 380 Lakeland Road in Shawano. They can be reached at 715-526-3421.

In 2017, Safe Haven provided shelter for 58 women, 52 children and two men with the average length of stay 31 days. During 2017, the shelter was never empty. Those statistics show the important role Safe Haven is playing in our community.

At Safe Haven, the youngest participant was born to her mother while in shelter and the oldest resident was 83 years old.

Cicero commented: “We worked with a teenage girl who was a victim of sex trafficking and taken to Chicago for work, and she isn’t our first sex trafficking victim. Although these issues are not often discussed, they do happen in our community.”

The Safe Haven building project is going well. An open house is planned for late September. The shelter is currently at 78 percent of the capital campaign goal, so they are still in need of financial donations to complete the project.

Many thanks to Stacey Cicero and the staff and volunteers of Safe Haven. Also, a huge thank you to donors for supporting this much needed building expansion. Another great example of community support.

Question: In 1969 a group of snowmobilers marked off trails in a wooded area in the town of Wescott and built a clubhouse. What did they call it?

Lorna Marquardt is a former Shawano mayor.