A Woman’s Place launches campaign to support victims of domestic violence and survivors – Greeley Tribune

For victims and survivors of domestic violence, the right support can make a vital difference.

“You helped save my life. “

“I feel safe, supported and loved.

“Without your help, I wouldn’t have gotten out of this toxic relationship.”

These are just a few remarks from guests of A Woman’s Place, the only shelter in Weld County that caters to people experiencing domestic violence or intimate partner violence. The shelter, which launches special awareness campaigns this month, has empowered victims and survivors with all-inclusive services since 1977.

Brittany Enlow-Gance, outreach coordinator for A Woman’s Place, said the shelter offers residential programs to help people fleeing abusive situations who need a safe place to stay. The shelter also provides financial resources, advocacy, safety planning, counseling and community education.

Johanna, a 2021 client, began contacting A Woman’s Place for psychological support after years of verbal and physical abuse from her husband, according to a success stories document from the shelter. At the time, she was alone, pregnant and was very afraid for her life and her future.

She decided to leave the violent environment when the abuse resulted in a miscarriage. She called A Woman’s Place for help, and advocates have helped her rebuild her life and find her own place.

Today, Johanna is safe, healthy and a survivor.

“Today I am perfectly satisfied and have peace,” she said. “I should have left my abusive relationship sooner. My new life is mine. The help I received from A Woman’s Place has had a huge impact on my life. It meant the world to me! The people at A Woman’s Place cared about my problems and helped me. I am so grateful!

A Woman’s Place has a collection of success stories like Johanna’s, showing the need to continue to raise awareness of domestic violence and the resources available to victims and survivors.

For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is recognized in October, Enlow-Gance organized a campaign focused on community education. This year, residents of Weld County can expect to see multiple outreach efforts through flyers and yard signs, often targeted near schools, businesses and organizations.

Two of the biggest efforts this month are campaigns to roll out bathroom fliers and empty chairs.

The flyers, which have tear-off tabs with the shelter’s crisis line, are handed out in Weld County restrooms. This campaign makes the search for help more discreet and, hopefully, more secure.

The Empty Chair campaign honors lives lost to domestic violence. The empty chairs are covered in purple, the color used for domestic violence awareness raising, and contain notice boards featuring stories of deceased victims, as well as domestic violence resources and statistics.

“This is the empty chair they leave at the table because they are no longer with us. So everyone has a different story of someone who is no longer with us because of domestic violence, ”said Enlow-Gance.

GREELEY, CO – OCTOBER 07: A garden sign from A Woman’s Place showing resources for domestic violence victims and survivors for Domestic Violence Awareness Month is visible outside the Westview building at Aims Community College in Greeley on October 7, 2021. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. (Alex McIntyre / Personal Photographer)

As the Outreach Coordinator, Enlow-Gance also wants to break down stereotypes about who may be victims of domestic violence, the type of household it occurs in and even what domestic violence is.

“I think the only thing I want everyone to know is that domestic violence is so… stereotypical as physical violence specifically against women,” she said. “So I really like raising awareness to the point that it’s not just women. It happens to men. It happens to any gender identity. It happens in any type of relationship, not just in low income minority families. So it’s not just physical violence… there is digital violence, there is sexual violence, there is emotional violence, there is financial violence – and it can happen to anyone.

One in three women and one in four men experience physical violence between intimate partners, according to Enlow-Gance. A lot of people don’t realize that someone they know is likely a victim of domestic violence, she said.

For this reason, Enlow-Gance believes domestic violence is a topic that should be discussed and addressed openly.

“It’s important to me just because I want everyone to know they have a safe place,” Enlow-Gance said. “I really believe that everyone should talk about it and that it should be an open discussion in every family, in every school, in every community, so that people know that there are safe places or people to turn to. if that’s something they’re going through.

Catherine, another shelter client with a success story, said she continued to work at her job when she lived at the shelter. No one at work knew she was living in a shelter with her daughter, and no one knew what she was going through.

“I didn’t start talking about it until a few months later, after A Woman’s Place helped me move into my new apartment,” Catherine said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without this help. I now live in peace and content. My daughter and I are healthy and happy now. As a woman who survived, I am very grateful for the help I received from A Woman’s Place to help me rebuild my life.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of calls and people seeking help declined during the lockdown as most victims were stranded at home with their abusive partners. When those restrictions were lifted, calls from the crisis line tripled, according to Enlow-Gance.

“We’ve seen a huge amount of crisis calls coming in,” Enlow-Gance said. “Unfortunately, due to capacity restrictions, we can’t help everyone. And this is probably the biggest struggle we have.

In 2020, A Woman’s Place responded to 712 crisis calls, serving 273 adult clients and 160 youth clients.

The past year has also seen an increase in funding, which has had a huge impact on families in County Weld, according to Enlow-Gance. The funding helps victims get back on their feet by helping them pay housing costs and bills.

This funding has helped survivors like Abigale and her two young children, according to another success story from the shelter. Abigale had been married for 12 years before her husband got drunk and beat her. Later that night, she escaped from her home with her children without a wallet and only the clothes they were wearing.

Abigale’s sister bought her a hotel room for the night. While her children slept, Abigale called the crisis line and shared her story.

The next morning, A Woman’s Place advocates moved her family to a shelter. The staff also provided them with clothes and food until she received her pay from work.

For over three weeks, with the help of A Woman’s Place, Abigale began to rebuild her life and move forward. She started counseling, met with a lawyer about custody, found her own home, bought new clothes, and enrolled her children in a new daycare.

“Working with victims can be very difficult,” said Enlow-Gance. “It’s a very emotional job, but it’s also one of the most rewarding jobs you can have. “

Enlow-Gance said stories like that of Abigale – of victims and survivors escaping into a residential program with nothing but clothes on their backs – are not uncommon. But seeing people like that transform their lives on the program is the most rewarding part of Enlow-Gance’s job, she said.

“It’s really amazing to see them go from there, soon after they found a job, or they found their own housing, or they work to get their children back if they lose custody of their children,” Enlow-Gance said. “It’s one of the most amazing things to see people being able to transform after the trauma they’ve been through and really get something positive out of their lives.”

A Woman’s Place has also served several families with children in hotbeds of domestic violence. From providing baby products to distributing toys to children, it’s one of the most rewarding parts of the job, Enlow-Gance said.

When working with victims and survivors, staff have to hear some of the most difficult and heartbreaking stories. While rewarding when done successfully, turning those negative experiences into positive change is one of the biggest challenges, according to Enlow-Gance.

“People are calling us to tell us the most devastating things that have happened to them,” said Enlow-Gance. “Just being able to set boundaries and focus on the positives rather than the negatives is one of the hardest things just because we hear so many negative things in our field.”

A Woman’s Place staff member Josselyn said a client told her that due to the shelter and support she received she intended to ‘pay up front’, according to another story to success.

“She said we remind her of the good of the world, of all the evils she has sadly encountered,” Josselyn said. “It’s my favorite thing so far because I love to see good deeds trigger a chain of other good deeds. I’m happy that she feels encouraged to pay it forward, because by helping her we are directly helping someone else! “

Enlow-Gance’s advice to people experiencing domestic violence is to confide in someone who is a safe person in a safe place, and then call the shelter’s crisis line, (970) 356-4226, to receive help.

The crisis line keeps information confidential and does not report anything to law enforcement unless there are reports of child abuse. The line accepts anonymous calls, so if someone isn’t ready to leave a home or abusive relationship just yet, advocates can still help with planning and security resources.

“There are a lot of people going through this situation who really feel alone, and they don’t know or understand that they can tackle it or that there are resources to help them,” Enlow-Gance said. .

To learn more about A Woman’s Place, get help, or get involved, visit www.awpdv.org.

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