October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Jane Wagley, Executive Director

In the United States, each October is designated as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month”. We have ceremonies to honor those who lost their lives to someone they thought loved them, we have rallies, special events and speaking engagements and we try so hard to raise awareness and seek help for those who are victimized by an intimate partner. It is an important month for Our Sister’s Place and all those who work with survivors as we reach out to our communities.

Sadly, the statistics continue to stun as we find more and more survivors coming forward. This year, so far, there have been 465 gun related domestic violence fatalities in the United States, 10 million people a year are physically abused by an intimate partner, there are 20,000 calls A DAY to domestic violence hotlines, and we now know 20% of women in America have been raped. In Palm Beach County, we read almost daily about another brutal attack on someone from their partner and we see hundreds of clients and their children at our offices. All the shelters and housing programs from Miami to Martin County have been full to capacity since the beginning of the year. We receive desperate calls daily from victims who have been referred to us from other shelters because they are full. There is never enough funding and it is heartbreaking to turn anyone away who is desperate to escape from abuse.

Our mission is clear: Through the successful operation of our thrift store, we support victims of domestic violence by providing safety, advocacy, education, financial and emotional support as well as opportunities for positive life changes. We receive grants and donations to supplement our hotel/motel program and transitional housing programs. We offer survivors safety, time to heal, benefit from our services and support, prepare for life and a future that holds strength and dignity to live free of abuse.

“Margaret” and her three children had suffered from both verbal and physical abuse. One of her children told his teacher about the abuse. The teacher called Our Sister’s Place for advice on how to help the family. “Margaret” called our crisis line and she and her children we given a safety plan to help them leave the abuser within 30 days. The most dangerous time for individuals is AFTER leaving the abuser so it was important to have a plan in place that protected everyone. We coordinated their safety plan and were able to bring them into our safe housing. “Margaret” worked with our pro bono attorney to file for divorce and petition for a restraining order. We were able to move the children to other schools so they were not afraid their father might come to the school and take them away. This was a major source of stress for them and we worked hard with the school and the children to allay those fears by enrolling them in activities that were fun and educational. This allowed “Margaret” to find a new job so she could start saving for a home of their own. The family attended all life skill sessions, family building sessions and educational workshops. The abuser tried to continue his abuse by petitioning the court for full timesharing with the children and wanted to obtain unsupervised visitation with the children. Our attorney was able to resolve these issues where “Margaret” has the children full-time and visitation was supervised. The family moved out of our housing at the end of the school year and moved to Ohio to be with other family members. They felt stronger and were able to move forward feeling valued and loved.

As October continues on and you attend events or you think about what you can do for those who are seeking safety from abuse, please consider donating your time to our thrift store and/or direct service programs. If your time is limited, consider a financial contribution to help us continue to offer support and dignity to those in need.

Each Saturday in October, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., we will be hosting an information table at our thrift store located at 580 U.S. Highway One in Tequesta. The phone number is (561) 744-6997. Stop by to learn more about our work, domestic violence and how you can be a part of a solution to this horrific epidemic.

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, please call our 24/7 crisis line at: (561) 348-4018