One in four women and one in seven men have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. On average, it takes an individual seven times of trying to leave before it is successful. This is why the Women’s Shelter and Support Center, based in Rochester, is focused on helping victims of this violence.
The Women’s Shelter has been providing a variety of services for 40 years to any person or family experiencing domestic violence. They serve 10 counties with rural offices in Dodge and Fillmore counties, which have a variety of services for anyone no matter gender, age, sexual orientation, and religious background.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, the shelter has had to think outside the box to provide services in a safe manner. Quarantining and staying home can cause individuals to feel more isolated than they already feel. Crisis calls that the shelters receive have been harder to resolve because of the concerns of safety for the victim.
Laura, the Women’s Shelter advocate for Fillmore County said, “It has become a pandemic inside of a pandemic.” Laura’s position of work involves communicating with a victim after an assault, supporting the survivor through the court process, helping the individual find housing or shelter, and many more things. Laura also talked about how working at the Women’s Shelter has impacted her life, “Working with the Women’s Shelter has given me the opportunity to help individuals on one of their most important journeys. Life does not go back to normal after domestic violence, but it does get better. Being able to work closely with someone and letting them know how strong they are and seeing them get their independence back is unexplainable. Working within Fillmore County and being able to give back to my community has been a huge opportunity that I have been so proud to be a part of.”
The services of the Women’s Shelter vary for each individual based on what the victim may need. They provide support groups, education, safety, food, and shelter for the victim. The Women’s Shelter can also help amplify the voice of the victim. Multiple county agencies work together to help any individual to help find the best resources. The Women’s Shelter serves over 3,800 victims annually and has housed around 400-500 individuals in the community.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The Women’s shelter has teamed up with other agencies to create a series of webinars to bring awareness to the issue. In the Fillmore County Courthouse, there is a Domestic Violence Awareness display on the first floor to enhance awareness to this prevalent issue. The display lists and tells the stories of 21 Minnesotans who lost their lives to partner homicide.
“If you are experiencing domestic violence please call the Women’s Shelter crisis line at (507) 285-1010. We have advocates who are trained to listen and assist anyone in a crisis. The first step is always the hardest, but you don’t have to make a decision today and there are always options. If you know someone that is going through domestic violence, there are ways to approach it. Ask them if something is wrong or express concerns. Listen and validate what they are saying and offer help. Support their decisions, but don’t offer advice. Being supportive gives that person a non-judgemental life line. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help someone escape an abusive situation and begin healing” -Laura