By Linda Kor
Whether it’s because of physical or emotional abuse, the number of people reaching out for help due to domestic violence is on the rise in Navajo County. Theresa Warren, the executive director of Alice’s Place in Winslow, says that more families are coming in to shelter, but some are staying for shorter periods of time, usually for 30 to 45 days instead of 60 to 90 days. “We still have families that stay the full 90-day period. To be honest, I knew it had been a busy year, but I had not stopped to look at the numbers as a whole and was surprised to see that we have already matched or surpassed our numbers from last year,” stated Warren.
One of the possibilities noted by Warren was an improved economy. “The victim may feel more able to leave if they think job opportunities are out there. We saw an eerie drop in numbers round 2009 to 2011 after the economy dropped.”
Another reason is the increase in funding to rural areas. “In no way do we receive the funding needed, but I have seen an increased awareness of rural issues on a federal and state level that have resulted in increased funding opportunities,” said Warren, noting that the STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) grant received through the Governor’s Office this year was funded for twice the amount for rural programs than urban ones. The 2013 reauthorization of VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) also included language specific to groups previously underserved, such as those in rural areas.
“All this to say we have been able to increase staff, the services we offer, and time spent on outreach,” she explained.
In 2014 Alice’s Place had one fulltime case manager, one fulltime victim advocate, one live-in safe house manager and Warren, who covers most of administrative functions, hotline coverage and backup to direct client services covering the program that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Thanks to the additional funds provided this year, the center was able to add two part-time Crisis Hotline advocates.
Warren provided a break-down of the number of people served by the center that gives a harsh reality to the number of people in central and northern Navajo County who have reached out for help. The center has eight beds, which equates to the potential of 2,920 bed nights per year. In 2014, the center provided 2,062 bed nights, which is about 71 percent of that potential. They had 69 shelter residents through the year that were both adults and children, and an additional 53 non-residential families that they worked with regarding services not available in the shelter. There were 196 hotline crisis calls that served 319 individuals. They provided 600 hours of case management, crisis intervention and life skills/education to clients, 100 hours of lay legal advocacy and safety planning, 550 hours of transportation, both local and long distance, and logged about 200 hours of staff training/education for four staff members.
In comparison, so far this year they have provided 1,683 bed nights, which is about 78 percent of the availability, and answered 193 hotline calls that served 349 individuals. Shelter was provided for 73 adults and children, and services were provided for 56 non-residential families.
The job is non-stop, something made apparent even while providing the information for this story as Warren took an intervention call. “I received a crisis call from a young mom with a 4-month-old baby. We are placing her in shelter this morning,” she said.
With October set aside as Domestic Violence Awareness Month there is an effort to educate not only the general public, but also those who may be in need of services. Miss Navajo County Samantha Edwards is hosting a lighting of the Historic Courthouse in Holbrook beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct 1, to promote that effort.
“There are really two elements to this event. The courthouse will be lit up purple, the color representing domestic violence, for the entire month of October to get people talking and open up about domestic violence. The other aspect is to let victims of domestic violence know that there is help and resources for them,” explained Edwards.
According to Edwards, one in four people experience violence in the home and to emphasize the fact she is also organizing a candle lighting that same evening. “The plan is to have each person hold a lit candle and three of every four people will blow theirs out. The remaining candles will symbolize those who are victims of domestic violence.” As part of the event, there will be speakers, booths and Edwards will be performing with the violin.
For more information on the services offered at Alice’s Place, contact the center at (928) 289-3003 or go online to alicesplaceshelter.org.