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Many victims of abuse are scared and embarrassed and do not seek help, said Lisa Shafran, president of Turning Point Domestic Violence Services.
They feel they have nowhere to turn and no one who will understand.
But that does not have to be the case, Shafran said. Turning Point has more opportunities for assistance for victims than ever before.
New efforts include agencies and schools working together and more focus on preventive measures.
Turning Point, which serves six counties including Bartholomew, will present information about its work, goals and initiatives during its annual meeting 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Clarion Hotel and Conference Center on Jonathan Moore Pike.
The meeting takes place each October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month as part of efforts to highlight the ongoing challenges faced in communities where an estimated one in four women will experience some form of abuse in her lifetime.
Shafran said an emergency shelter always will be offered for those who are in crisis and need a safe place to stay, but Turning Point has begun focusing more on outreach and education efforts.
These include assisting victims at Bartholomew County Courthouse with legal issues, including filing protective orders, serving the Latina population and helping victims find transitional housing.
Turning Point also works with community agencies, such as United Way of Bartholomew County, so workers and volunteers can make referrals for domestic violence services when they see a need.
Darla McKeeman, Turning Point’s director of client services and training, said a greater emphasis also has been placed on offering training sessions, such as with police officers.
Educating the public about domestic violence includes changing attitudes developed decades ago when families were embarrassed about abuse in the home, Shafran said.
“We have to move to a point where we realize violence is a public health issue,” McKeeman said.
Shafran said great strides have been made among local teens who have been very supportive with their fund-raising efforts at the annual dance marathon each February. They learn that violence often starts during their high school dating years.
Another major fundraiser takes place each June with the Girlfriend Ride bicycle event.
Carrie Kruse, Turning Point’s director of residential services, said during her nine years with the agency that she has seen the struggle victims go through. And too often they feel others put some of the blame on them for not leaving an abusive home.
Many times they feel they cannot leave an abuser because they have no jobs, vehicles or family support to start a new life, Kruse said.
Victims who seek emergency shelter stay an average of 15 days and will receive help dealing with the initial crisis to learning how they can find another place to live. The shelter is open for help 24/7, Kruse said.
Shafran said Turning Point’s goal, however, is to help victims before they reach this point, which is reshaping the agency’s strategic efforts.
How to get help
WHAT: Turning Point Domestic Violence Services
COUNTIES COVERED: Bartholomew, Brown, Jackson, Johnson, Jefferson and Shelby.
FREE SERVICES: Emergency shelter, education, prevention services, victim and community outreach, legal advocacy program, sexual assault services and children’s programs.
LOCATION: Administrative offices, 1531 13th St., Columbus, United Way of Bartholomew County Doug Otto Center.
INFORMATION: 379-5575 or turningpointdv.org
CRISIS HELP: 379-9844 or 800-221-6311 (offered 24/7)
COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE: Donations can be sent to the administrative office. Shelter staff welcomes gift-card donations so residents’ specific needs can be met as they arise.
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