MARSHFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – For the past 23 years, the Safe Harbor Victim Assistance Program in Marshfield has assisted victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse with everything from food and clothing to protection orders and the transportation of the court system.
But DeAnne Rader, director of Safe Harbor, points out that there’s one big thing missing in what her program can offer.
A safe haven for people trying to escape domestic violence situations.
“In Springfield Harmony House, Lebanon has Cobb, and Bolivar has House of Hope,” Ryder said. “In Webster County, there is none. And it would be silly to ask everyone in our neighborhood to drive to Springfield, Lebanon, or Bolivar. Sometimes those shelters are full too, so there’s really nowhere to go.”
“We can’t just tell them we don’t have a place and send them to another county,” added Safe Harbor board member Lisa Saylor. “Because there are often kids that are involved and they are in our schools. They have already been forced out of their homes and had a first-grade seat for violations. It really affects them, so if we can keep them in the same school, that is one of the pillars of stability that they really need” .
Saylor is aware of these challenges because she is a fierce and resolute advocate for victims who has helped change legislation at the state level, and she is also a member of Safe Harbor’s board of directors. But she is also a mother of three and a survivor of domestic violence. She’s still dealing with an ex-husband who’s in and out of jail and is still harassing her.
“I came to court 73 times to confront the aggressor,” she said.
Saylor has been dealing with domestic violence issues for the past 11 years.
“It’s frustrating, but you take your life back when you walk away from this abusive situation,” she explained. “I left him in July 2011, and that day set off a chain of events that ended with him putting 300 gallons of gas from a propane tank in our house in an attempt to commit suicide.”
Saylor noted that victims of domestic violence come from all socioeconomic backgrounds and should not be judged harshly.
“We are your mother or your sister,” she said. We’re sitting next to you in your cubicle at work or church. We hide it well. That’s how we survived. Our house is burning, and we try to control the burning inside. But sometimes, the fires of abuse are so great that we can no longer contain them, and we are forced to make decisions we don’t want to. Take it Most people think that we as a victim are stupid, stubborn and slow. This could not be further from the truth. But it is not fair that a mother can get away from a case of domestic violence and her children have to return to it every two weeks. So when you see a mother turning back a million times, give it Take a break. She’s frustrated that her children don’t necessarily walk away. Too often, we have defended the behavior of the abusers to the point that we are our best advocates in public or in the courts.”
The only safe places Safe Harbor can provide are two homes in undisclosed locations without supervision or staff.
“Because of that, we can only house one victim at a time in addition to their children, and that really limits us,” Ryder said. Every day, we get calls from people who need shelter, and we’re full. One day I got a phone call and she told me she was trying to escape a case of domestic violence, so she was staying with her aunt and uncle. It was well and good until the aunt left and the uncle sexually assaulted her.”
It’s those kinds of horror stories that drive the desire to build a domestic violence shelter.
“We have a plan for a shelter that can hold a maximum of 35 people,” Ryder explained. “One of the suites will be for single ladies and the other wing for ladies with children. There will be a patio and play area along with a kitchen and laundry facilities. We also have rooms for counseling, group sessions, parenting classes and all the things that people will need to make a difference in their lives” .
Ryder estimates that the refuge will cost $3-4 million, and while a portion of that money will come from federal grants, Safe Harbor must first come with funding to purchase about 5-10 acres of land at a cost of $50-100,000. .
“There are no grants available for you to use the money to buy the land,” she said. “This is our first step, and the land must come from public support.”
This public support comes from the sale of lottery tickets to give away the 2022 Dodge Challenger SXT. Tickets are available at safeharbormo.org for $25, and the winner’s raffle will be held October 22 at another fundraising festival, Oktoberfest, an autumn festival at the Webster County Fairgrounds.
Another factor motivating the need for shelter is the increase in domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the problem is getting worse across the country.
“One in four women is a victim of domestic violence,” Ryder said. “But the notable statistic for me is that when it comes to kids involved in these situations, one in three of those kids will either grow up to be in an abusive situation or will grow to be abusive.”
“Broken children lead to broken adults,” said Saylor. “So if you want to address this and start fixing it, we need the community to step up and help build this bridge.”
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