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Domestic violence awareness takes center stage in October
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Safe Harbors of Enterprise is putting out a positive message to the community that victims do have a choice.
Dave Duncan, the group’s volunteer coordinator, said there will be table tents in the restaurants this month with a positive message about healthy relationships.
“We want victims to know that it’s their choice — whether to build a legacy of love and hope or one of fear and despair,” he said.
Bobbie Duncan, Safe Harbors director, said the gazebo at the Wallowa County Courthouse is decorated with purple lights in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness month and a display is set up at the courthouse.
“There will be purple ribbons people can pick up to wear and show support,” Bobbie Duncan said.
Amy Stubblefield spoke to the Wallowa County Rotary Club last Wednesday to get the message out that Safe Harbors serves victims of domestic violence by offering shelter to escape dangerous living situations. She said last year in Wallowa County they sheltered 14 women, 17 children and two men. In the course of a year, they served 167 women.
Bobbie Duncan said calls to their hot line ebb and flow between five and 30 a month. January can be a particularly difficult month for victims of domestic violence. Dave Duncan is seeking volunteers to answer the hot line and is setting up training this fall.
Less than 75 percent of the women they see don’t go through legal services. A lot of the time a “crime” hasn’t been committed, but the victim lives with the fear of being hurt or are controlled by intimidation, Bobbie Duncan said.
A woman, on average, leaves a batterer seven times before she leaves him for good, Bobbie Duncan said.
“Ninety-five percent of our victims are women. I admire their courage for taking that step to leave — the most dangerous time is when she’s ending the relationship,” Bobbie Duncan said.
Besides offering direct support for domestic violence victims, Safe Harbors reaches out to the community with educational campaigns. A popular one in its sixth year at the Wallowa School is Second Step. It’s a violence prevention and emotion management course for kindergarten through fifth grade students. Bobbie and Dave Duncan go into these classrooms for a half hour each per week.
“It teaches kids empathy and all the skills adult batterers are lacking,” Bobbie Duncan said. “There’s a lot of role playing and they love that.”
Safe Harbors used to offer it to Wallowa County Head Start and it was so successful, Head Start bought its own curriculum and is teaching it to their preschool students, Bobbie Duncan said.
Bobbie Duncan said Safe Harbors is also seeking funding to do an awareness campaign for sexual assault and community education geared toward victims — identifying what happened to them was rape.
Included in this program is a bystander training course that Stubblefield will offer to local bartenders, she said, who are often witnesses to women at risk of being
The organization is largely funded through federal funding, but Dave Duncan said that money doesn’t cover direct services for victims.
“Most of our monies can’t be used for victim support,” Dave Duncan said. “We depend on local funds to provide direct victim support like gas, household supplies, door locks or nights in a hotel when the shelter is full.”
He said they don’t take men or older boys at the shelter, but on a case-by-case basis, can sometimes get them a night’s stay at a hotel.
Safe Harbors works closely with other community organizations like Community Connection, offering connection to services and has a food bank; Building Healthy Families has parenting classes, a room for safe visits and child care; the Center for Wellness offers counseling; the Department of Human Services grants money to victims for housing or to get a car fixed that was damaged by an abuser.