Artemis Center receives Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Outstanding Nonprofit of the Year, 2014 Award
Artemis Center, Dayton’s domestic violence resource center, was recently honored by the Wright State Nonprofit Leadership Alliance as the recipient of the NLA Outstanding Nonprofit Award, 2014 at the NLA Community Recognition Ceremony on April 11th. Artemis Center has served more than 85,000 victims of domestic violence and their children through crisis intervention, safety planning, education, and support. By working collaboratively with other community agencies, Artemis Center is able to coordinate and provide the most comprehensive services to our clients. We are extremely grateful for this recognition and grant award, which helps us to continue to serve the needs of domestic violence victims and their families in the Dayton community.
COMMENTARY: Some domestic violence victims seek help, don’t get it
Posted: 12:05 a.m. Sunday, March 16, 2014
By Mary McCarty - Commentary
The final beating happened after Melissa Skelton woke up in the middle of the night to comfort her eight-year-old son who had wet the bed.
No matter how hard she tried, nothing could stop the bedwetting.
And nothing could stop the beatings, the near-choking episodes. “It’s not that bad,” her husband said. “I never made you pass out.”
Yet Skelton lived every day with this thought: “You never know when he will go over the edge and it will be the last time.”
On her 30th birthday, Skelton confided to a friend about the nine years of abuse that started with her first pregnancy and escalated after she went back to college.
“You have to leave tonight,” her friend urged.
Skelton hurriedly gathered up her two boys and they moved into a domestic violence shelter that very night.
What would have happened if the shelter had turned her away?
“I would have liked to say that I would have had the strength to leave anyway, but the reality is that I could easily have gone back to my husband,” said Skelton, now 43, of Radnor, Va.
A new study shows that nearly 10,000 domestic violence victims get turned away on an average day in America when they reach out for help.
On Sept. 17th, 2013 – a day selected for its very ordinariness – nearly 10,000 cries for help went unanswered, according to a recent study by the National Network to End Domestic Violence. More than 6,000 of the requests were for safe housing from victims attempting to leave their abusers – the very time when they are in the most critical danger.
“It’s shocking that three women a day are murdered in this country, and when they reach out for help is when they are in the most danger,” said Carol Kurzig, president of the AVON Foundation for Women, which helped to fund the study. “When victims make attempts to leave, we don’t want them to be discouraged by the lack of services.”
Local advocates find the trend troubling – and all too familiar. “We have to limit our ability to provide services based on funding decreases,” said Patti Schwarztrauber, executive director of the Artemis Center for Alternatives to Domestic Violence.
From a peak staff of 45, Artemis now has only 18 employees who serve about 5,000 clients a year. A couple were laid off recently. It’s a challenge even to man the hotline.
“A lot of victims have a very narrow window of opportunity,” Schwarztrauber said. “Not all of them have access to a phone or the privacy or ability to call. When they do call, they need the services right then. If they don’t get helped, chances are they won’t call again.”
The report, “Domestic Violence Counts 2013: A 24-hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services,” also showed that 66,581 domestic violence victims received services on Sept. 17. The data was collected from 1,649 out of 1,905 identified domestic violence programs in the United States, including Artemis, during a 24-hour period.
Kim Gandy, executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, was saddened but not surprised by the findings. “It’s consistent with what we’re hearing, especially as we face state, local and federal budget cuts as well as decreases in giving from individuals and foundations since our economic problems beginning in 2008.”
The agencies in the study laid off a total of 1,900 workers last year. But the job loss is just part of the emotional toll, Gandy said: “The impact on our advocates is just terrible when someone reaches out and literally begs for help and they can’t help them.”
Even in a time of economic austerity, Gandy said, it is cost-effective to fund programs that assist victims of domestic violence. Yet The Family Violence and Family Services Act, the nation’s only funding source dedicated to domestic violence programs, has a budget of $135 million this year to combat a problem that costs our economy $9.7 billion a year.
“Intervention now will save lots more money down the line,” Gandy said. “We lose three women a day in this country to domestic violence homicides. Think about the cost of that one homicide, or attempted homicide — the cost of an arrest, jury trial, incarceration for 30 years and kids going into foster care system. How many shelter beds could that money have provided for that one prison bed? Yet we keep pouring more and more money into our prison system.”
Kurzig added that corporations also need to make up the gap “so that no one has to face a choice between staying in a dangerous situation and living in a car.”
Schwarztrauber lamented, “We have close to the same number of clients as in the past, with half the staff.” That means they can’t always provide court advocates for clients who need them. Instead of showing up in courts and offering their help to victims, the Artemis Center merely sends out letters offering assistance.
Skelton testified before a Congressional briefing March 6 about the need for increased funding for domestic violence programs.
“It was the first time she told her story publicly, and she was so genuine, so heartfelt,” Gandy said.
Starting a new life was the best 30th birthday present she could have asked for.
And it wasn’t just a gift to herself.
“The first night at the shelter was the last night that my son wet the bed,” Skelton said.