Saturday, September 21, 2019

Domestic violence hits close to home

Marco resident arrested last week for aggravated assault and violating a restraining  order. Submitted photo

Marco resident arrested last week for aggravated assault and violating a restraining order. Submitted photo

On Sunday, July 18, an arrest was made on Marco Island of a man charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The victim of the alleged felony battery was a woman. (The man was also charged with violating a restraining injunction already in place because of domestic violence.) Unfortunately, this case is a reminder of the fact that domestic violence is happening right here in our community and far more often than most of us would like to believe. According to Linda Oberhaus, Director of the Shelter for Abused Women in Naples, forty per cent (40%) of all violent crimes in Collier County are cases of domestic violence.

Maryann Green, Assistant Director of the Shelter informed me, “I think most people are slightly surprised to learn we directly served 4,052 unduplicated individuals last year. In general, we as a community like to believe that such abuse doesn’t exist in our neighborhoods or communities – tragically, it does to a great extent. Nationally, one in four women will be abused at some time in their life.”

The Shelter for Abused Women in Naples has been, and still is, the only shelter for victims of domestic violence in the area. Since it was founded in 1989, the shelter has helped 53,000 victims.

“We need to prevent violence from happening in the first place,” says Oberhaus, “The shelter is not just a place to come and live, but we offer programs such as safety planning, and counseling for both people living in the shelter and those not living there.”  There is an on-site child care center, and attorneys are on site to offer help with divorce and other legal matters. The incidence of domestic abuse and violence occurs across the board at all socio-economic levels, to all nationalities, at all educational levels, and to all age groups. One specialized program, “Women of Means” offers help to women who are not poor but may be living in gated communities with persons of privilege and power. Some elderly folk are abused by their partners, children or caretakers.

The Shelter’s transitional living program provides four single family cottages, where women and their children may live until they can get their lives back

Linda Oberhaus, Executive Director of the Shelter for Abused Women in Naples. Submitted photo

Linda Oberhaus, Executive Director of the Shelter for Abused Women in Naples. Submitted photo

together and are able to support their families. On average, the shelter houses 50-60 guests per night, supplying everything from shampoo to toothbrushes to baby formula. This all costs a lot of money. Everything the shelter provides is free of charge to those in need of their services.

To raise money for the many services and programs offered by the Shelter for Abused Women in Naples, groups and individuals host drives to collect needed items, such as food, baby items, and cell phones (that are given to every woman and older child). There are two thrift stores, one in Naples and one in Golden Gate. Victims shop for free and proceeds from items sold benefit the Shelter. Furniture and household items donated to the stores help to set up families in their own homes when they leave the shelter. (if you have unwanted furniture, the furniture will be collected.) The Shelter invites those who would like to help to “Adopt a Family” during the holidays.

If you, or someone you know, is being abused, you are encouraged to call the Shelter’s confidential 24-hour crisis hotline: 239.775.1101.

If you would like more information on the Shelter for Abused Women in Naples, visit www.naplesshelter.org or email info@naplesshelter.org.

Some statistics about the Shelter for Abused Women & Children (July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010)

  • The only state certified domestic violence center in Collier County, the second largest of Florida’s 67 counties
  • The Shelter provides Outreach (non-shelter) services at offices in Naples, Immokalee and portions of Bonita Springs
  • The confidential 24-hour crisis hotline: 239.775.1101, answered more than 2,392 calls this past year
  • 60-bed emergency shelter and 4 transitional housing cottages provided 17,313 nights of shelter last fiscal year
  • On-site kennel provided 1,031 kennel nights (safety) for 34 sheltered pets last year
  • Safety Planning with adults and children, in English and Spanish, created 25,976 safety plans this past year
  • Direct assistance with food, clothing, personal care items, household goods, transportation, cell phones, Fresh Start assistance, etc. (in excess of $849,176 this past year)
  • Cell phone recycling program – donated cell phones are recycled for 911 calls only
  • More than 26,343 hours of counseling provided to children and adults last year
  • More than 53,000 individuals served since 1989

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