Support group for domestic violence victims forms

Posted 8/3/14

By Julie ConreyRecord Staff Writer  Turning Point, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing assistance, resources and shelter to domestic violence victims, is starting a support group for …

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Support group for domestic violence victims forms

By Julie ConreyRecord Staff Writer  Turning Point, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing assistance, resources and shelter to domestic violence victims, is starting a support group for women beginning March 7.The first meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at its offices in Warrenton. Women interested in attending should call Turning Point at 636-456-1186. The group is free and open to women in Warren, Montgomery, Gasconade and western parts of St. Charles counties.Any woman concerned she may be in an abusive relationship, recovering from domestic violence, or those who have been in a shelter program and need periodic or ongoing support to recover from their experiences are encouraged to attend.“Support groups are in demand,” said Ellen Reed, executive director of Turning Point. “Women still need a place to go to talk.”Sometimes it’s about healing, wanting to be believed, safety issues, or asking others if what they are experiencing is domestic violence.“It’s women sharing their experiences and getting support from one another,” added Reed.The group will be facilitated by a staff member, and any information shared in the group is completely confidential.According to the Warren County Sheriff’s Department website, there were 252 calls for domestic violence-related incidents in 2011. Over the last three years, there has been an average of nearly one domestic violence incident per day in Warren County, according to Sheriff Kevin Harrison. He can’t specifically identify why there are so many domestic violence issues in the county, but believes the lackluster economy and unemployment may have something to do with the statistics.“On many of these calls a contributing factor is alcohol use and sometimes drug use,” Harrison said. He doesn’t think 252 accurately reflects the actual number of domestic violence issues. “How many occur that we don’t know about?” he said.Harrison said domestic violence is a taboo subject that needs to come out of the shadows. “We need to talk about it. Society needs to quit acting like it’s not a problem,” he said.Domestic violence is not always a single incident, but a pattern of assaultive or coercive behaviors that create an environment of power and control that one person takes over another, Reed explained. The victim is controlled, powerless, terrorized and dehumanized.Reed said domestic violence can be broken into four categories: physical, emotional, economic and sexual. Physical abuse can include locking someone out in the heat or cold without appropriate clothing. Emotional abuse can be name calling and verbally tearing someone apart. Controlling a spouse’s finances, refusing to pay bills or stalking at work to the point where the person loses his/her job is economic abuse. Most victims won’t talk about sexual abuse, which includes forcing a victim to do something she’s not comfortable doing.“It’s one of the big red flags of potential brutality. The possibility of a lethal incident in the home is much greater when there is a pattern of sexual abuse,” Reed said.There is not a typical “profile” of a victim of domestic violence, Reed said. Victims are found in every socioeconomic group.Abusers also come from every socioeconomic group.“The thing they have in common is a sense of entitlement. They are men who believe they are better than women and that they own the woman with whom they are in a relationship. These men believe they have an obligation to discipline, and they treat their victims like children,” said Reed. “We see much less violence in partnerships when both individuals are on equal footing.”BeginningsTurning Point got its start in the mid-1990s when police and concerned citizens started the Warren County Council Against Domestic Violence. The group opened a shelter in 1995 that was able to accommodate two women.“Over time the need has proven to be great,” Reed said. In the late 1990s, the group purchased a large home that can house up to 20 people, including women with children. Reed said it’s at capacity most of the time.“Unfortunately we frequently turn people away,” Reed added.Other services provided by Turning Point include one-on-one support with an advocate; court advocacy; civil or criminal justice system assistance; support, guidance and transportation for victims; support groups for women in shelter and nonshelter domestic violence victims; economic empowerment programs; and a 24-hour hot line. All services are free.Turning Point’s annual operating budget is $423,000. Funding comes from a variety of sources including donations from private individuals, foundations, faith communities throughout its service area, the United Way and local, state and federal government. Individuals who donate $100 or more can get 50 percent of the donation back on their Missouri tax liability, Reed said. The organization also runs a resale shop called Treasures.“Women who come into the shelter have nothing. We give them a voucher so they can buy what they need,” Reed said. The general public can shop at Treasures from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It’s located on the North Service Road, across Interstate 70 from the Warrenton Outlet Mall.Turning Point shelter has a wish list that is posted on“We may be sitting in a church pew with someone who last night was a victim of domestic violence who is putting on their game face,” said Sheriff Harrison. Domestic violence needs to be a topic for family discussions, he says. “Young boys and young girls should be taught that no one should be treated like this.”

Staff of Turning Point put out buntings on a white picket fence in memory of those killed in the recent triple homicide in rural Jonesburg. Submitted photo.