3/11/2014 1:11:00 AM Amy's House--Because Domestic Violence Hurts Everyone
Manya Heard, Shelter Manager and Jennifer Franklin, Family Advocate
(Photos by Lincoln Herald Staff)
Wayne Howard News Journalist
Victims of domestic violence who turn to agencies like Amy's House in Lincolnton often have certain things in common:
When they seek relief from an untenable situation, it's not the first time they've been abused; more often than not, they didn't make the choice alone--a friend, neighbor, relative or more often than not law enforcement officer talked them into it; and unfortunately, they are more likely than most people to wind up in a situation involving domestic violence again.
Jane--not her real name, we won't use that to protect her and her children--had been abused by her husband for several years. Bent on control, he had made her quit her job, he took her car, he had beaten her, stabbed her, shot her. She had called the police before and then had made up with her husband and returned to their home. Finally, he beat her until she was almost unable to walk. A neighbor heard the ruckus and when the husband left the home, she went and got Jane, then picked up the children from school and brought them to Amy's House. Jane says now that she's ready to move on with her life. Her ex- has found a new girlfriend. She won't be returning to any relationship with him. She's looking for a job. She's about to move into public housing. She still has a long way to go--and there's no guarantee that she won't get involved with another abusive partner who may put her back in a similar situation--it often happens that way.
One of the worst things about domestic violence is that it repeats itself. Victims often come from homes where domestic violence was a way of life. Abusers almost always do. There's a strong chance that even if Jane manages to avoid returning to such a relationship, one of more of her three children may be involved in a similar situation when they grow up.
Still, the people at Amy's House keep trying. They try hard--because nobody deserves to live like that, because while some victims may not avoid a similar problem in their future, some will. They try hard because in some cases, they save lives--not only of direct victims of domestic violence but of the indirect victims: the children who learn by example...children who may grow up to be abusers or abused (if they're not already abused--mentally if not physically), who may see domestic violence as an appropriate method of expressing feelings because that's what they saw adults do when they were very young.
Amy's House is the domestic violence shelter operated by the Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Vicky Lingerfelt has been there as executive director since Amy's House began in 1995. Today, she is joined by Jennifer Franklin, family advocate, and Manya Heard, shelter manager.
In 1992, Lincoln County documented 47 aggravated assaults and 53 simple assaults. There were no resources available for victims locally, so Lincoln County officers transported victims to other counties and paid a fee when space was available. In 1993, the Coalition Against Domestic Violence was formed as a 501-c-3 agency. In 1994 Heafner Tire Company held a golf tournament to raise money for the program. In 1997, a grant from the Timken Foundation made it possible to expand the facility that had opened in 1995.
Amy's House now has room for up to 23 people including victims and children. Those who come to Amy's House can stay for up to 90 days. The Coalition also operates Amy's Closet on NC16 in Denver. The shop offers low-cost clothing and some other needed items. When they come to Amy's House, many of the victims have only the clothes they are wearing. Over the years, Amy's House has served 6108 women, 5740 children and 79 men.
Law enforcement officers will tell you--the domestic violence problem is big. Officers respond to 8-10 domestic violence related calls every day. Last year, the Lincoln County Communications Center document over 1400 domestic violence incidents. There were almost as many the year before--and one domestic violence homicide. Sadly, many of those who make calls later drop charges and continue to experience the same problems.
Those victims who do follow through with further action--who experience a paradigm shift, come to Amy's House asking, "Where do I turn from here?" After legal matters such as restraining orders, criminal warrants, court appearances and more--no easy task, their next question is often, "What's next for me and my children?" More often than not, these victims have no job, no transportation, no income. They need housing, employment, transportation and so much more. One thing they need most is someone to help them with information, caring, and a willingness to listen when they talk, complain or cry. Amy's House provides some of what's needed--and looks for other avenues to help them find the other things.
Your contribution to the United Way of Lincoln County helps to support Amy's House and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence--one of 14 United Way of Lincoln County agenicies. It is noteworthy that the money you contribute is used to support Lincoln County needs.
The United Way has now raised just over 75% of this year's goal of $375,000. By the annual meeting this Spring, it's hoped that we can join other area counties who have already exceeded their United Way agencies goals for the year. If you haven't already, please make a contribution very soon. If you have, consider giving more if you are able. You can visit their website at unitedwayoflincolncounty.org and click on donate at the top of the page or mail your contribution to:
United Way of Lincoln County PO Box 234 Lincolnton, NC 28093
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