The American Psychological Association’s Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family reports violence is found in all socio-economic, racial, educational, and religious groups. According to the United States Bureau of Justice, the most common similarity in victims is gender, with 90-95% of the victims being women. Domestic violence destroys the stability of the family leaving victims and children homeless, without support to provide for their daily needs.
One third of American women report being abused by an intimate partner at some time in their lives (US Department of Justice 2005). Additionally, about 45% of female victims of intimate violence live in households with children under the age of 12 (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (2000) and, up to 60% of families where adult domestic violence is occurring violence against children is occurring (Edleson, “The Overlap Between Child Maltreatment and Woman Battering”, 1999). Women and children navigate a society with an underlying and constant threat of violence, domestic and sexual.
According to report findings from the July 2000 National Violence Against Women (NVAW) Survey, intimate partner violence is pervasive in U.S. society and because many victims are victimized more than once, the number of intimate partner victimizations exceeds the number of intimate partner victims annually. Findings indicate that approximately 4.8 million intimate partner rapes and physical assaults are perpetrated against U.S. women annually, which supports data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, that shows women are at significantly greater risk of intimate partner violence than are men.
Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next (Break the Cycle. (2006), Startling Statistics) and 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household (Edelson, J.L. 1999). Witnessing violence is traumatic – “living” violence is tragic.
Children who witness domestic violence may exhibit behavioral problems and suffer from depression. They are at risk for running away, being suicidal, or committing criminal acts as juveniles and adults. Children who are experiencing stress may show it in different ways, including difficulty in sleeping, bedwetting, trouble with schoolwork, inability to concentrate or focus, withdrawing, stomachaches, headaches and/or diarrhea. More than half of the school-aged children in domestic violence shelters show clinical levels of anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder (Graham-Bermann, 1994). Teen victims of domestic or dating violence are more likely to smoke, use drugs, engage in unhealthy diet behaviors like taking diet pills or laxatives and vomiting to lose weight, engage in risky sexual behaviors, and attempt or consider suicide (Silverman, J, Raj A, et al 2001.). Without advocacy and treatment, these children are at significant risk for delinquency, substance abuse, school dropout, and difficulties in their own interactions. Again, issues individuals and mothers may be forced to deal with during their own recovery.
Sexual violence, like domestic violence, is rampant in our society. Every 2.5 minutes someone is sexually assaulted (US Department of Justice 2005). The National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (July 2000) reported that 1 in 8 women will experience an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives. Although women are victimized more often, 1 in 33 men report being victims of rape or attempted rape (Tjaden, P., Thoennes, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence).
OUR HISTORY: Early in 1991, a group of women, members of the Business and Professional Women of Harrisonville, attended a workshop concerning domestic violence, its impact on families and communities, and the need for shelters where women and children seeking to break the cycle of violence and abuse could find safety and support. It became clear that Cass County was in need of a shelter and the accompanying programs. Hope Haven opened its doors August 1, 1995. Since that time thousands of women and children have been helped through shelter, groups, and support services. In July, 2009 Hope Haven joined the ranks of Missouri programs providing services that include hospital and court advocacy response to victims of sexual assault by becoming a dual Domestic and Sexual Violence Program with shelter. Today, Hope Haven continues to strive for excellence in providing the highest quality services to survivors, their children, and the Cass County community.
Fostering recovery from domestic and sexual violence is arduous and complex. There is no one path to follow, no one symptom or situation to treat. Add children to the mix and issues are compoundedChildren, by the nature of their experiences are survivors too. Fostering recovery becomes a need-driven combination of teamwork, programs and treatment that supports any survivor’s triumph over manifested issues resulting from violence be they societal, behavioral, or mental health related.
A Dual Domestic and Sexual Program since 2009, Hope Haven is the sole provider of safe shelter; crisis intervention; case management; court, child and hospital advocacy; Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing (HPRP) for victims’ homeless because of domestic violence, and related services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in Cass County.