Christian Care's Domestic Violence Shelter
The thought of staying in a domestic violence shelter can be frightening, if you don't know what to expect. Christian Care's Domestic Violence Shelter replicates the best aspects of a healthy family life, while providing a safe haven for victims of abuse.
The shelter is a home in a quiet neighborhood at an undisclosed location—a safe haven away from the rush of everyday business, located strategically to greatly reduce the possibility of abusers locating our clients while they heal and get back on their feet.
The shelter is homey and comfortable, with many modern conveniences and friendly staff members on duty to help each individual. Residents live in a caring community, but one with a system of rules and guidelines in place that we enforce fairly and consistently. For example, drugs, alcohol, profanity, gossip and disrespect to others are not permitted. There is a curfew every night. Everyone shares chores and works together to make positive changes in their lives. The introduction of order, calm, and procedures encourages both adults and children to learn how to establish and maintain healthy boundaries, and how to respect themselves and others. Our schedule of activities and house rules provide structure and spell out expectations.
Over the years we have provided services to thousands of women and children. We provide food, safe shelter, clothing, and personal care items, free of charge, as well as spiritual guidance and Bible studies. Since many of our residents do not have adequate support systems in their lives or the social skills needed to overcome the problems they are dealing with, we focus on counseling, holistic case management and learning opportunities for our adults and provide our children’s advocacy program for our younger residents. We also take time out to play and relax together.
The time limit to stay is flexible and is based on behavior, adherence to policy and procedures, and need. We provide a safe, supportive environment where residents can make plans for their future and try out new behaviors. It is our hope that when they leave, each resident is strong, healthy, and motivated to succeed in a new life.
We counsel our clients—individually and in groups—and help them to identify those patterns at work in their lives and work through their issues related to domestic violence. We teach them about parenting, setting and achieving goals, taking personal responsibility, and developing new and affirming behaviors. The safe environment provided at the shelter, coupled with counseling, allows clients to develop a new perspective on their lives. Each woman receives counseling weekly, at minimum.
We also hold group meetings. In Understanding Domestic Violence, women learn in depth about domestic violence and the devastating and long-term consequences it can have for them and their children. Residents learn about Anger Management, Working through Grief and Loss, and How to Nurture Self Esteem. Many more subjects are covered; some arise spontaneously from the needs expressed by the group members themselves.
In order to continue residency at the shelter, residents must be accountable for their actions and demonstrate that they are taking steps to make positive changes in their lives. They participate at least weekly in case management sessions to set health, legal, educational, employment, family, spiritual, and other goals. Their case manager is an active partner in the process, offering encouragement, guidance, and support.
To broaden the thinking and experience of our residents we schedule learning opportunities in a wide range of area. Volunteers from the community share their knowledge and expertise in such areas as career search, finding scholarships, Tai Chi, self defense, budgeting, and more.
Children's Advocacy Program
Our children have individualized needs and require special attention. They are often the silent victims who are overlooked in both the legal system and the family itself. Our playroom is the setting for individual and group therapy as well as socialization opportunities designed to help them "learn to be kids” again. We also provide legal advocacy and court testimony when necessary.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence—also known as domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, or battering—occurs between people in intimate relationships. It can be so subtle that, as it escalates—and it will escalate—you don’t even realize that you are being abused. You get used to it. It may start with insults, put-downs, and embarrassing statements. It can include coercion, threats, intimidation, and isolation. It will eventually move to full-blown emotional, sexual, and/or physical abuse. It can end in the death of the victim or the perpetrator. Without help, abuse will continue and worsen. It does not get better and he will not change. While domestic violence can occur in same-sex relationships and at times even in heterosexual relationships a woman can be an abuser, overwhelmingly it is men who commit violent acts against women.
Domestic violence is a crime in all states. Every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States. Domestic violence results in more injuries that require medical attention than rape, accidents, and muggings combined. Two in five women who are murdered are killed by their husbands. The abuse of women happens in all classes, races, and cultures and it occurs at every level of income and education. Pregnancy is especially perilous time for an abused woman. Not only is your health at risk, but so is the health of your unborn child. Abuse may begin or may increase during pregnancy. Fifty percent of the men who abused their wives also abused their children, and 80% of runaways come from homes where domestic violence occurs.
Domestic violence is not about how stupid and incompetent you are, even though your abuser would like you to think so. It is about power and control. It is about instilling fear in you, and wanting to maintain control in the relationship. Although a source of the abuse can be your partner’s anger, this anger is usually not caused by you. You are merely the target and the use of anger is one way that your abuser tries to gain authority. His anger can turn to physical violence—kicking, punching, grabbing, slapping or strangulation. He may also use sexual violence—forcing you to have sexual intercourse or to engage in other sexual activities against your will. Spousal rape is a crime.
The abuser will use different tactics to maintain control in the relationship.
- Children as pawns. He may accuse you of bad parenting and threaten to report you to children’s protective services. He may threaten to take the children away.
- Coercion and threats. He will often threaten to harm family members, children, pets, or himself—or he will threaten you.
- Denial and blame. He denies that the abuse occurs or he shifts blame for his abusive behavior onto you. You “made” him do it.
- Economic abuse. Your abuser controls the finances (perhaps even taking the money that you work for), refuses to share the money, makes you account for money you spend, or doesn’t want you to work outside the home. He may sabotage your job by forcing you to miss work, by showing up at your workplace, or by calling you frequently at work. His violence may cause you to take too many sick or personal days or force you to lie in order to explain your bruises.
- Emotional abuse. He uses put-downs, insults, criticism, or name calling to make you feel bad about yourself.
- Intimidation. He may destroy your property, abuse pets, display weapons, or use certain looks, actions, or gestures to instill fear.
- Isolation. He limits your contacts with family and friends, requires you to get permission to leave the house, and/or controls your participation in activities and social events. He may also track your time and whereabouts, check the mileage on your car, or forbid you to talk to certain individuals.
- Power. The abuser makes all major decisions, defines the roles in your relationship, is in charge of the home and social life, and treats you like a servant or possession.
An abusive relationship doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process that involves the slow disintegration of your sense of self. It is not always easy to identify abuse, but there are many characteristics that signify an abusive relationship. If you can answer YES to even one of these questions, you are being abused.
- Have you ever been hit, kicked, shoved, or threatened with violence?
- Do you ever feel that you have no choice about how you spend your time, where you go, or what you wear?
- Has your partner ever accused you of doing things you’ve never done?
- Do you have to ask your partner for permission to make everyday decisions?
- Do you ever feel bad about yourself because your partner calls you names, insults you, or puts you down?
- Does your partner ever insist that you limit time with your family and friends?
- Do you ever submit to sexual intercourse or engage in sexual acts against your will?
- Do you accept your partner’s decisions because you are afraid of his anger?
- Does your partner accuse you of being unfaithful?
- Do you change your behavior in an effort to not anger your partner?
Domestic violence is part of a continuing cycle that, while difficult to break, can be broken. If you are in an abusive relationship you may recognize this pattern.
Each time the abuse occurs, it worsens, and the cycle shortens. Breaking this pattern of violence alone and without help is difficult. Leaving the abusive relationship may be the only way to break the cycle. It is important to realize that you may not be in a position to resolve the situation yourself. You may need outside help, and there is help available. Call Christian Care’s Crisis Line at 309.788.2273 for information and referrals.
Leaving an abuser is dangerous. You are the only one who knows when it is the safest time to leave. Prepare a safety plan so that you can act quickly when the time is right. Take these precautions.
- Arrange a signal with a neighbor to call the police if necessary.
- Prepare an emergency bag that includes items you’ll need when you leave, such as extra clothes, important papers (drivers license, social security card, birth certificates for you and your children), money, extra keys, and prescription medications.
- Know exactly where you’ll go and how you’ll get there, even if you have to leave in the middle of the night.
- Call Christian Care at 309.788.2273 or the National Domestic Hotline at (800) 799-7233 to find out about your legal options and resources available to you, before you need them.
- If you have school-age children, notify the school authorities about custody arrangements, warn them about possible threats, and advise the school on what information to keep confidential.
Your abuser may be able to find out information on your whereabouts by tracing your calls, and he may be able to monitor your Internet activities and access your email account. Do not make long distance calls from your home. Change your passwords, get a new email account, or access a computer at a friend’s house or the library. Be careful who you confide in regarding your location.
- Christian Care: 309.788.2273. Provides 24/7 emergency and transitional shelter for Quad City area women (and their children) who are victims of domestic violence.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.799.SAFE or 800. 799.7233. Provides crisis intervention and referrals to in-state or out-of-state resources, such as women’s shelters or crisis centers.
- Your doctor or hospital emergency room. Treats any injuries and refers you to safe housing and other local resources.
- Other local area women’s shelters. Typically provide 24-hour emergency shelter for you and your children, advice on legal matters, advocacy and support services, and evaluation and monitoring of abusers.
- Counseling or mental health center. Most communities have agencies that provide individual counseling and support groups to women in abusive relationships. Marriage counseling is not appropriate for abusive relationships.
- Local court. Your district court can help you obtain a court order, which legally mandates the abuser to stay away from you or face arrest. This is typically called an Orders of Protection or a restraining order. Advocates are available in many communities to help you complete the paperwork and guide you through the court process.
An Order of Protection is a written court order, signed by a judge, which requires an abusive household or family member to do or not do certain things. A petition for an Order of Protection may be filed by a person who has been abused by a family or household member or by any person on behalf of a minor child or adult with disabilities who is being abused by a family or household member. The judge can order any or all of the following remedies:
- Forbid any further abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
- Order the abuser not to enter the shared home for a period of time.
- Order the abuser to stay away from the person or persons protected by the order, or prohibit the abuser from entering or remaining in a specified place.
- Require or recommend counseling, award physical care and possession of a minor child, award temporary legal custody and determine visitation.
- Prohibit the abuser from removing child from the state or concealing the child within the state; order the abuser to appear in court alone, or with the child.
- Grant possession of personal property to victim, forbid abuser from taking, transferring or destroying the victim’s property.
- Order abuser to pay temporary support to the victim and/or children.
- Order the abuser to pay the victim for losses suffered as a direct result of the abuse (medical and dental expenses, repair/replacement of damaged property, attorney’s fees, court costs, etc.).
- Prohibit the abuser from entering or remaining in the residence or household while the abuser is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Prohibit the abuser from possessing firearms.
- Prohibit the abuser’s access to school records if the abuser is prohibited from contact with a minor child.
- Order the abuser to reimburse a shelter providing temporary shelter and counseling to petitioner.
- Order injunctive relief as necessary or appropriate to prevent further abuse.
An order of protection is not a guarantee that you will be safe. However, it sets the legal system in process and that can serve to protect you from charges your abuser may attempt to file and can help you to protect your children.
An Emergency Order of Protection may be obtained on your testimony and court appearance. It can last for 14-21 days. An Interim Order of Protectioncan be obtained in cases where the abuser has been notified of the court hearing, but has not necessarily been personally served with all legal papers. It is good for up to 30 days, and can be extended. A Plenary, or Final Order of Protection,is available when all the legal requirements of notice, service, etc. for the abuser have been satisfied. All the remedies can be requested and it can last for up to two years from the date the judge signs it; the Final Order of Protection can be extended by the judge for additional periods.
Make several copies of your Order of Protection made and keep one with you at all times. If your abuser violates it by abusing you again or by coming onto your property when the Order forbids him to do so, call the police. Show them the Order. If you do not have a copy to show them, they can verify its existence through their police radio. He is then subject to arrest for violation of the Order.