Domestic Violence & Starting Over

Domestic violence continues to be a massive threat to mothers and children in the US and around the world.  Statistics demonstrate that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women.  Every 9 seconds a woman is beaten in the US and at least 1 in 3 women has experienced violence in her lifetime globally.  Beyond this devastating reality, many are unaware that every year upwards of 10 million children witness domestic violence.

Domestic violence is also a major contributor to homelessness.  Families with children in particular are impacted and a recent study demonstrated that 50% of homeless mothers and children are fleeing domestic violence. In addition, every year in the US about 8 million days of paid work are lost by victims of domestic violence.

In a one day census conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence on September 12, 2012, 86% of domestic violence programs were evaluated.  The study demonstrated that on that single day 64,324 victims were served.  There were also 10,471 requests for service that were unmet and 65% of those related to emergency shelter or transitional housing.

Generally, when we think of domestic violence, we immediately recognize the need for shelters, counseling, and medical assistance.  However, there are additional services that are needed but are often overshadowed by the larger issues - particularly transitional housing and basic household items.

Mothers and children who enter emergency shelters need to eventual transition to a new housing situation.  When leaving a shelter, women and families are often entering a situation with little financial support and few items to begin their new lives.  Studies demonstrate that nearly 65% of women who use shelter services leave within one month - very little time to prepare.  Thus, mothers and children are beginning their new lives with no beds, no dishes, no appliances, etc.  Starting over is very difficult when resources are limited or even non-existent.

Having spent nearly a decade working in shelters with victims of domestic violence, the lack of resources for women and children moving on to the next chapter of their lives was, and continues to be, a constant challenge.  Although the shelters do receive donations, the need is much greater than what is given.  In addition, what is donated is not always practical.  While used items are certainly welcomed, broken items or items that pose safety risks are problematic.  Unfortunately, the good intents of some do not always take into consideration whether or not items will actually benefit a person in need.

Recognizing that a new life means more than a new location, American Mothers, Inc. will sponsor the National Mom to Mom Service Day in the month of May, 2014.  As an organization dedicated to improving the lives of mothers and children, AMI is bringing moms across the US together to collect household items for mothers who are in shelters and want a “do over.”  Items that will be collected include (but are not limited to) bedding, towels, dishes, utensils, silverware, glassware, pots and pans, small appliances, window treatments, lamps, and clocks.  For more information on National Mom to Mom Service Day and to find out how you can participate please visit www.americanmothers.org.

For more information on the Domestic Violence Counts Census Report 2012 please visit 

www.nnedv.org.

For more information on domestic violence statistics, please visit 

www.domesticviolencestatistics.org.

Gina Messina-Dysert, Ph.D. is Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Ursuline College and National Chair of Education for American Mothers, Inc.