October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Two of United Way's member agencies are dedicated to protecting the rights of all people to live free from violence. ALIVE (Alternatives to Living in Violent Environments) and Turning Point provide counseling, emergency sanctuary and other critical services to victims of domestic violence and seek to reduce the incidences of domestic violence throughout our county. In addition to sheltering and protecting victims, both agencies strive to increase community awareness and educate the general public about the horrific consequences of domestic violence.
According to the NCADV (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence), domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault each year, and historically, the abuser is most often someone they know.
ALIVE and Turning Point were both founded by survivors of domestic violence who recognized the great need for safe shelters for women and children being victimized by domestic violence. ALIVE was started in 1983 by two women in two rooms donated by a church with two volunteer co-directors. They had six safe home providers who shared their homes with battered women and their children when safe shelter was unavailable. ALIVE's "Nights of Safety" program continues to provide temporary emergency sanctuary when all domestic violence shelter beds are full. ALIVE's additional services include a 24-hour crisis line, emergency transportation, individual and group adult counseling, children's treatment program, court advocacy, and community education. ALIVE's paid staff has grown from one half-time person to the current count of twelve full-time and five part-time employees, plus more than 50 volunteers who clocked 21,929 hours of service in 2013.
Turning Point was founded in 1993 as a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Warren, Lincoln, Franklin, Montgomery and Gasconade counties. Its humble beginning was a donated apartment. Turning Point now shelters 75 women and 100 children annually in a confidential location to provide greater protection for fleeing victims. Women are given up to 30 days of safety with guidance and support to help them figure out how to take the next steps to total freedom from domestic violence.
Both ALIVE and Turning Point have 24-hour crisis hotlines and crisis intervention programs. Professional staff and trained volunteers provide immediate assistance to victims of family violence 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Calling the hotline does not mean a woman is making a commitment to leave, talk to the police, or do anything more than make that first call. It is simply a safe place to talk things over, think things through, to think about safety and get some information about what steps may be taken when she is ready. The initial crisis call may be the first time anyone has been willing to listen to a victim's story without criticizing or passing judgment.
ALIVE and Turning Point offer sanctuary for victims of domestic violence - both male and female. If you are living in a violent situation or know someone who is, please don't remain a victim. There is hope for a future free from abuse and violence for you. Call (888)873-7233 or (800) 941-9144 today!