The speakers from A Safe Place, Denise Gentes and Charlene Quint, shared with the Club the staggering data of domestic violence. One in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic violence in his or her lifetime. Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually. Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup. Everyday in the U.S. , more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
There are several forms of domestic violence, with the most common physical abuse. Although many think signs of physical abuse are visible, physical restraint and depriving of basic needs, and animal cruelty are not outward signs. Emotional and psychological abuse include: manipulation, intimidation, blackmail, destruction of sentimental property, and controlling whereabouts. Verbal abuse entails insults, threats to harm friends and family, obscene phone calls and degrading personal remarks including sexual comments. Economic abuse could be keeping a partner from getting a job, not allowing access to money, making the partner ask for money, and withholding money for family needs. Last but not least, sexual assault.
A Safe Place was created from a task force formed out of the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office to serve the needs of victims of domestic violence 37 years ago. Beginning in a small refurbished home, that could serve about 8 families, it is now the sole provider of services for victims in five locations in the county and surrounding areas.
To help with these forms of abuse, A Safe Place has a 24-hour crisis line that takes in about 200 calls a month. At the Lake County Courthouse, (out of the 1800 Orders of Protection issued in 2015, about 90% of the orders come through them) they provide trained court advocates who assist the victims through the entire Emergency Order of Protection process. They provide emergency shelter (7,233 nights in the past year) for women and their families, meet their basic needs of food and clothing. Men can stay at hotels they help provide. Transitional living (34,122 nights of safe housing in 2015) help victims transform from their life at the shelter before moving on to apartments in the community and receive counseling (2,100 people received counseling last year), community groups and safe locations. Children receive art therapy, and there is a Family Visitation Center that provides supervised visits and custody exchanges in a secure environment.
In addition, their Abuser Intervention Program works with abusers to teach accountability and helping them change behaviors. With community education programs, like speaking at middle and high schools, they get the opportunity to talk to teens about healthy relationships, what’s normal, and how to spot someone experiencing domestic violence. A Safe Place is working to fight this scar on society from every angle.
Charlene shared her own personal story, a successful corporate lawyer in Chicago living in Lake Forest, was forced to flee her home in 2012. She went into hiding for two years, only after then was she finally able to go back there with hired guards and a police escort to gather her personal belongings because her ex-husband was still physically and verbally abusive. When she eventually healed enough to function again, she knew she had to help other women who were going through the same terrible experience. So she partnered with A Safe Place and Zacharias Center for Sexual Abuse Recovery.
Domestic abuse does not discriminate based on age, race, gender, socio-economic status, orientation or address. A lot of times people will think “domestic violence doesn’t happen in our community” but it very well could be happening next door.
What's up next for our Club....
Brad Swanson and students from SaLT and their New Orleans recap
My thanks to Bill Pigati for his help with this week's bulletin. I know it's difficult for many of you to take notes for the bulletin when your lives are so busy running businesses. I really appreciate all the effort it takes it goes into takes these notes and getting them to me. Thanks to all who have and will be taking notes! Mary Beth