October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The Journey Continues

In 1979 a small group of compassionate women from Homer came together out of concern for the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault that was happening in our community. In a time when Homer didn’t have a safe place for victims to go, this group of warriors gathered together to create an informal network of safe homes to provide safe shelter to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. These acts of kindness and compassion are what brought about the birth of South Peninsula Women’s Services, known today as South Peninsula Haven House.

The journey of providing safe shelter continues today as this need has unfortunately only increased. The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault reports that 40% of women in Alaska experience intimate partner violence, 33% of all women experience sexual violence, and half of all Alaskan women experience intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or both. South Peninsula Haven House reports similar numbers. Between July 2016 and June 2017 our organization provided survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault with 3,779 bed nights, made 229 agency referrals, served 246 children, received 467 crisis calls, and 168 new child advocacy cases. Victims who suffer domestic violence and sexual assault are from all races, ages, and can be your next-door neighbor. Domestic violence and sexual assault affects men, children, women, and our entire community.

I Am the Voice of a Survivor

I married young and left home right out of high-school. Before I turned 20 I found myself married and the mother of two. My husband worked long hours and would often come home after meeting with friends’ downtown. As time passed he became aggressive and started to shove me. I was afraid. From there, things began to escalate, and the shoving turned to hitting. I was denied access to the family funds, and often denied access to the car. One day, my best friend voiced her concern and drove me to Haven House to speak with an advocate. Together, the advocate helped me create a safety plan in the event I chose to leave. After creating a safety plan and finding support I began to feel like I was in control of my life again. For the first time in a long time I felt hopeful, and knew my children and I would be safe.

A Violence Free Community

Every day, South Peninsula Haven House reaffirms its mission and dedication to the women, children, men, and families of the Southern Kenai Peninsula. Most women will never need to flee, but, Haven House will continue to be here to support and empower those that do. We remain committed to help everyone in our community live violence free.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To show your support to the survivors, we encourage you to wear purple every Wednesday throughout the month. Haven House staff will be available throughout the community to answer your questions and to raise awareness. To see a list of Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities please visit our website, www.havenhousealaska.org or look for a list of activities on the weekly Homer News events calendar.

Ronnie Leach has recently graduated from Walden University with a masters in human resource management. She has worked for South Peninsula Haven House for 13 years and is now executive director.