HAVEN Provides Help for Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is observed nationwide every October, and HAVEN (Household Abuse Victims Emergency Network) is drawing attention to its prevalence. The term “domestic violence” covers a lot of situations, including abuse in current or former dating, partner, or marriage relationships; family abuse; child abuse; elder abuse; and abuse occurring in various family or household circumstances. The determining factor for these forms of abuse is the existence of an uneven power dynamic whereby one person believes they are entitled to exert dominance and control over the other(s), and uses various harmful tactics to accomplish this. In most cases, the abuse and violence are done in private and kept hidden from other people.
Relationship violence in all its forms is not only an individual problem, or a couple’s problem, or a family problem, it is a concern for the entire community. The results of domestic abuse and violence place a burden on the local economy as well as the educational, medical, human service, and criminal justice systems. The traumatic stress that people experience in abusive relationships causes many symptoms, for example, children struggling in school, teens acting out or disengaging, and adults having problems on their jobs. Health problems increase for those of all ages, along with mental health concerns and the adoption of coping mechanisms. When abuse is the underlying cause, addressing these outward symptoms is not enough. Only when the abuse is recognized and mitigated will people have a chance to begin healing. The reality is that many of those who are abused courageously face long term challenges due to what has happened in their lives.
Are you, or someone close to you, experiencing interpersonal abuse? Are you being hurt verbally, emotionally, psychologically, sexually or physically? Is someone intimidating or threatening you? Dominating you and controlling your decisions, where you go, or what you do? Socially isolating you? Manipulating you? Punishing you if you don’t comply with them? Taking financial control or advantage? Is someone projecting a positive image to others, while showing contempt toward you in private? Can you never really be good enough for them? Does this person sometimes seem to care about you, but then becomes cruel as if a switch were flipped? Does this person blame you and say it is all your fault? Have you wondered what this is all about, and why this happens?
If any of this sounds familiar, HAVEN can help. Call 715-536-1300 to talk with an advocate. They will listen and answer your questions. Call to find out what help and resources are available. Call if you are thinking of leaving an abusive relationship. Call if you want to make an appointment to meet personally with an advocate. Call if you need safe shelter from domestic abuse. Call if you are concerned that a friend or family member might be experiencing abuse. Help from HAVEN is always free and confidential.
Advocacy at HAVEN is individualized to meet the needs of each client or family. Services that are often provided include safety planning; supportive peer counseling; referral and connection to many community resources; advocacy specifically for children, and assistance with legal processes such as filing for restraining orders or divorce. Advocacy and support are also provided for those who are victims of crimes related to interpersonal abuse and violence.
Abuse rarely gets better, but often gets worse over time. If you know an individual or family who may be in an abusive situation, listen to them, believe them, and give them your ongoing emotional support. Those who have never been exposed to abuse often find it difficult and confusing to comprehend. Unfortunately, this is characteristic of abusive patterns, and an important realization for believing those who are targeted is that what they describe often “won’t make sense”. Identifying the abuse is only the first step. Separating from an abusive relationship is often a complicated and even dangerous process. Those who have experienced abuse need to know that family, friends, and the community will be there for them as they consider their options and make the decisions necessary for reclaiming their lives.
HAVEN’s main office and shelter facility are located in Merrill, and an advocate can also meet with clients by appointment in Tomahawk or other areas of the county. HAVEN’s services do not have geographic boundaries, although the majority of the clients are from Lincoln County, Non-profit agencies similar to HAVEN operate across the country, where many of the same services are available.
The HAVEN office is open Monday through Fridays from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM and advocates are able to meet with clients by appointment. Due to COVID -19 precautions, we ask all who enter our building to be symptom free, wear a mask, and observe social distancing. Anyone who needs to contact HAVEN and is experiencing symptoms, awaiting test results, or isolating, may call 715-536-1300 or text to 715-409-3231 at any time.
The shelter area at HAVEN includes a large kitchen, dining area, living area, a children’s playroom, and a teen room. The bedrooms are arranged for various sized families, and have recently been renovated. Each family or single person has their own bathroom. The entire building is protected by a security system, and is handicapped accessible. Due to COVID – 19, those who come into shelter at this time are asked to participate in a brief health screening to assess for symptoms or exposure to the virus.
A weekly support group is offered by HAVEN which focuses on clients’ needs and interests, including such things as stress reduction, self-awareness, healing from trauma, hands on and outdoor activities, parenting, nutrition, wellness, and personal finance, all in an atmosphere of empathy and empowerment. Currently, the support group meets virtually. If you are interested in joining this group, please call during office hours to speak with an advocate.
HAVEN provides free community education about identifying, addressing, and preventing all forms of interpersonal abuse and violence. Pro-actively, we share about the qualities of authentic and positive relationships and how to build them. We also teach about the effects of childhood abuse/adversity on lifelong health, and why it matters. We have topics for all ages. Each of the presentations are planned in advance with the class or community group to include the information requested for the specific audience, and also to be age appropriate, when that is a factor. With COVID ongoing, there are virtual options for us to meet with groups and organizations. Those interested are invited to call 715-536-1300 for more information.
Abuse diminishes all of us. It does not discriminate according to race, religion, age, level of education, or economic status. Think of all the people that you know: at least one in five of them will experience abuse in their lifetimes. Let that sink in. And then, please consider that what is happening now in our relationships and our families, for better or for worse, will impact how the next generations will be able to live, love and learn. That is why it is important to be aware of the prevalence of interpersonal abuse and violence, along with the help that is available.