Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stalking Awareness Month

January is Stalking Awareness Month. It is a month dedicated to education and bringing awareness to the issue of stalking.
  • 3.4 million people are stalked each year in the United State.
  • Intimate partner stalking is the most common type of stalking and the most dangerous.
At the suggestion of the Stalking Awareness website I googled “track girlfriend” to see what would come up. I was not at all surprised to find websites and articles that give details on how to “track” someone “you love”.   It is very scary to me how easy it is to track someone’s movements. Most often the person doesn't even know they’re being stalked.

Cell phones are an easy and often used way to stalk someone. It is so easy to install a tracking device on a phone without the person even being aware. There are apps available for download and no way for the owner to know it has been installed.

I have read that some shelters across the country are taking clients’ cell phones as they enter shelter. The staff takes the phone apart so any tracking mechanism is disabled.  Abusers have shown up at their location due to the cell phone tracking devices! 

Thank goodness, at Hope House, we have not experienced this issue but we absolutely talk to our clients about technology, the advances that have been made in the past few years, and the various ways that someone can be “tracked”.

Stalking is a very dangerous crime and one that needs to be taken seriously. Most stalking victims know their stalkers. 60% of stalkers have stalked before. This has become a major issue in our society.

I encourage you to visit the website to learn facts about stalking and ideas on how you can participate in bringing more awareness to the issue.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pets In Shelter

In June of 2010 I posted a blog about animal abuse. I thought I would revisit that issue as there has been much in the press this past week about animals and domestic violence.

In homes with domestic violence, there is often abuse of the animals as well as abuse of the women. Animals are beloved members of the family and are often cited as reasons why a woman will stay in the relationship so she doesn’t have to leave her pet/family member behind. 

At Hope House we have been taking animals into shelter for over 10 years. We recognized that leaving the animals in the home was an obstacle that needed to be addressed to allow women to leave when they were ready.

We have two kennels at each of our locations, one for a dog and one for a cat. Asking about pets at home is part of the routine questions asked on the hotline. We determine
 if pets will be safe at home; if arrangements need to be made with family or friends; or if they need to bring the pet into shelter with them.

Our process had been to seek the help of local animal agencies in taking the animals for a temporary period of time while the client made other arrangements or found her own permanent housing. Unfortunately, over the past few years those agencies have been overwhelmed with their own animals and haven’t had the extra space to take our client’s animals. 

Consequently, we have had animals staying with us longer in shelter. This has had its advantages in that the client is with her pet and can find comfort in knowing that they are close and safe. It is a challenge in that we do not have a dedicated space for the pets. But somehow we always find a space.

It is such a pleasure to sit in my office and look out the window and see clients running around in the courtyard with their dogs. It is a great to hear dogs barking and having a wonderful time with their owners, knowing that they are all safe.

We will continue to provide this needed and worthwhile service, and continue to look at improving the options for our clients and their pets. For more statistics and information about this issue, 
visit my earlier blog.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ellen Pence 1948-2012

Photo by Yuen

I am very sad at the loss of a huge advocate in the field of domestic violence. Ellen Pence (1948-2012) passed away January 6th from breast cancer.

Ellen co-founded the Duluth Model. It is a program that was developed to reduce domestic violence by providing a Coordinated Community Response (CCR), meaning several local agencies (including police, probation, courts and human services) work together in response to domestic abuse.
The primary goal of CCR is to protect victims from ongoing abuse. This model is used in all 50 states and more than 17 countries, including in our area.

According to Duluth Assistant City Attorney Mary Asmus, a friend of Pence’s for almost 30 years, “Before Ellen, the criminal justice system did not intervene in domestic violence issues. Police did not arrest. People didn’t get prosecuted. Nowhere in the state or country. She is really behind all of it. It all goes back to her. She is the mother of our coordinated community response.”

She trained thousands of people during her career around the issue of domestic violence, and dedicated her life to ending violence against women. She was a leader for those of us in this field. 

She is gone from us, but her spirit remains, as does her legacy. She has inspired many with her research and her activism. It is up to us to continue her work and take up where she left off. No one can fill her shoes, but we can continue her work to end the violence.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Looking back: Accomplishments

The new therapy building on the Independence campus.

As we start a new year, I would like to take this opportunity to look at our 2011 fiscal year that ended September 30th and share with you all that we accomplished.

One of our biggest accomplishments is the completion of the capital campaign and the construction on the Independence campus. The transformation has been truly amazing. The buildings are beautiful and have really helped us in providing services to our clients. It is truly a healing space for great work to be accomplished.

In fiscal year 2010-2011 (October 1, 2010 – September 30, 2011) we were able to provide the following services:
  • 1,243 women and children were served in our two emergency shelters
  • 39,470 bednights were provided
  • 29 people were served in our transitional living program
  • 8,595 people were served through our court advocacy program
  • 455 people were assisted by our two contract attorneys
  • 108 people were assisted through the hospital advocacy program
  • 81 families received services through our safe visitation program
It is so uplifting to see the numbers of clients we were able to assist this past year through our programming. It is somewhat overwhelming at the same time knowing that we turned away 999 from our shelters and continue to have waiting lists for our outreach programs. 

We will continue to do all that we can to serve those who are in need and continue our mission of breaking the cycle of domestic violence.