SAU CFDD
Oct 212009
 

Bridgette Lombardo sketches an image on cloth, one of many artworks she has created during her stay at the Domestic Violence Shelter operated by Family Resources Inc. in Davenport. (Photo by Barb Arland-Fye)

By Barb Arland-Fye

“Our Little Miss Iowa” of 1976 is now a 42-year-old single mom who has found a refuge in the Domestic Violence Shelter of Family Resources Inc. in Davenport. “This place has literally saved my son and me,” says Bridgette Lombardo, the guardian of a 23-year-son who is handicapped.

Family Resources’ shelter is one of about seven domestic violence shelters in the Diocese of Davenport, and a lifeline for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Advocates say education is essential to eliminating domestic violence in the U.S., which is currently observing Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“One in four women will experience domestic violence and/or sexual assault in her lifetime,” says Nicole Cisne Durbin, director of violence intervention counseling services at Family Resources.

As the U.S. bishops stated in a pastoral letter titled “When I Cry for Help” (1992, 2002), “Domestic violence is often shrouded in silence. People outside the family hesitate to interfere, even when they suspect abuse is occurring. Many times even extended family denies that abuse exists, out of loyalty to the abuser and in order to protect the image of the family.”

Among the reasons a victim might not seek help is that the abuser is a prominent member of the community and no one would believe the victim, Cisne Durbin said. The abuser may have isolated the victim from everyone, or exerts economic control. Mental and emotional abuse may also be factors.

“It’s hard for people to understand why domestic violence victims don’t leave,” she said. “Abusers are master manipulators. Abuse is very much a grooming process. The abuse may start out very small, with controlling behaviors, she said. “We’re seeing an increase in teen dating violence. They’re texting. It’s very much about power and control. Ninety-nine percent of our clients are women.”

The economic downturn has resulted in more demand for Family Resources’ Victims Services, which includes the 24-hour emergency shelter and rape and sexual assault program. Among other services are the crisis line, counseling, medical and legal advocacy, and rent assistance, housing referrals, children’s programming, group counseling, homeless outreach services, transportation assistance, employment assistance/referrals and community education.

In Fiscal Year 2009, which ended June 30, Victims Services received more than 6,000 crisis calls and had to find alternative shelter for about 1,200 women and children; in the sexual assault program, more than 300 clients were seen, Cisne Durbin said. In Fiscal Year 2008, Victims Services received about 3,000 crisis calls and had to find alternative shelter for approximately 800 women and children.

“We average between 300 and 350 women and children annually at the shelter, which at any given time is full. Two-thirds of our clients are children and we can accommodate 16 families.”

Family Resources’ Victims Services also served about 1,500 clients seeking medical or legal advocacy or individual or group counseling in Fiscal Year 2009. That’s 400 more clients than the 1,100 served the previous year. The agency also collaborates with other entities to ensure needs are met.

Bridgette Lombardo is grateful for the services Family Resources provides.  In July, she found herself homeless, carrying a protection order against a man who had been verbally and physically abusive toward her. And she wanted to move her son David out of the care center he had been living in.

“The last thing I wanted to do was come to a shelter,” said Bridgette. “I didn’t expect anything this nice.”

At the shelter, she cares for her son, attends group sessions and does artwork, which adorns the shelter. She’s taught art to children there. Her dream is to have an art career and a stable home with David.

 The shelter and its services have provided “a brand new fresh start for me,” she said.

The average stay at the shelter is about 90 days, and for people struggling to find jobs and affordable housing that may not seem long enough. But Victims Services is dealing with its own financial struggle: 99 percent of its funding comes from grants from Iowa, Illinois and the federal government. The rest comes from fund-raising. Because of Illinois’ severe funding crisis, Victims Services had to reduce its staff 30 percent for one month. Funding has been restored to 80 percent of the previous year and now Victims Services is trying to determine the impact of funding cuts from Iowa, Cisne Durbin said.

Without a tax increase to help fund programs like Family Resources, she said, “services that keep our community healthy and keep it going are in serious jeopardy.”

“We average between 300 and 350 women and children annually at the shelter, which at any given time is full. Two-thirds of our clients are children and we can accommodate 16 families.”

Family Resources’ Victims Services also served about 1,500 clients seeking medical or legal advocacy or individual or group counseling in Fiscal Year 2009. That’s 400 more clients than the 1,100 served the previous year. The agency also collaborates with other entities to ensure needs are met.

Bridgette Lombardo is grateful for the services Family Resources provides.  In July, she found herself homeless, carrying a protection order against a man who had been verbally and physically abusive toward her. And she wanted to move her son David out of the care center he had been living in.

“The last thing I wanted to do was come to a shelter,” said Bridgette. “I didn’t expect anything this nice.”

At the shelter, she cares for her son, attends group sessions and does artwork, which adorns the shelter. She’s taught art to children there. Her dream is to have an art career and a stable home with David.

The shelter and its services have provided “a brand new fresh start for me,” she said.

The average stay at the shelter is about 90 days, and for people struggling to find jobs and affordable housing that may not seem long enough. But Victims Services is dealing with its own financial struggle: 99 percent of its funding comes from grants from Iowa, Illinois and the federal government. The rest comes from fundraising. Because of Illinois’ severe funding crisis, Victims Services had to reduce its staff 30 percent for one month. Funding has been restored to 80 percent of the previous year and now Victims Services is trying to determine the impact of funding cuts from Iowa, Cisne Durbin said.

Without a tax increase to help fund programs like Family Resources, she said, “services that keep our community healthy and keep it going are in serious jeopardy.”

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