Help Finding Your Local Emergency Domestic Violence Shelter
“Why didn’t she/he just leave?” Someone who has never experienced domestic violence may be well-intentioned to ask that question. But to the estimated 29% of Americans who have suffered through domestic abuse, the question can be cruel because the answer is not that simple. The terror and uncertainty that domestic violence victims experience cannot be compared to other crimes. For one, the abuse comes at the hands of someone who was once a trusted loved one, not an unknown assailant, and the abuse is often countered with a period of calm and normalcy.
Harbor House is an emergency domestic violence shelter in a confidential location where OhioGuidestone can provide refuge and healing for abuse victims, their children, and their pets. Our Domestic Violence Emergency Hotline number if you need help is 330.364.1374.
We understand the multi-faceted risks and complications in domestic abuse situations. We know that it sometimes takes Herculean strength and bravery to escape an abuser and start over. We also know leaving with children and pets is especially difficult, and that the very act of leaving can be extremely dangerous.
Leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence. Interviews with men who have killed their wives reveal that either threats of separation by their partner or actual separations were most often the precipitating events that lead to the murder.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Why Victims Stay
By providing a safe comfortable place for victims to find shelter from an abuser, OhioGuidestone professionals can remove many of the barriers that keep victims in abusive living situations. In addition to accommodations for children and pets, OhioGuidestone can address other underlying issues that keep victims in abusive homes.
A victim’s reasons for staying with their abusers are extremely complex and, in most cases, are based on the reality that their abuser will follow through with the threats they have used to keep them trapped: the abuser will hurt or kill them, they will hurt or kill the kids, they will win custody of the children, they will harm or kill pets or others, they will ruin their victim financially — the list goes on. The victim in violent relationships knows their abuser best and fully knows the extent to which they will go to make sure they have and can maintain control over the victim. The victim may not be able to safely escape or protect those they love or those who try to help. Research on intimate partner homicides found 20% of homicide victims are family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders.
The following are some of the situations where a victim has chosen to stay with an abuser.
- Victims may (understandably) fear that the abuser will find them and become more violent punishing them for leaving or trying to leave.
- Family and friends may not be supportive and may not believe the victim.
- Knowledge that life as a single parent is difficult and comes with financial struggles.
- Feelings are mixed because there were good times in the relationship filled with love and hope for the future.
- Losing access to money, joint assets, and bank accounts.
- They do not have enough knowledge or skills to support themselves and fear they will end up homeless.
- Fear that the abuser will gain custody of, or take away, hurt, or kill the children.
- Religious or Cultural beliefs and practices that do not support divorce, and force outdated gender roles.
- Religious leaders may value saving the relationship at all costs over protecting a spouse from a violent abuser.
- Victims may believe their children are better off in a two-parent household, regardless of the abuse.
- Law enforcement may treat abuse cases as domestic disputes instead of a violent crime, or worse arrest the victim for defending themselves against the attacker.
- Law enforcement may side with the abuser and dissuade the victim from filing charges against the abuser.
- Judges may let abusers avoid the maximum penalty by paying a fine and agreeing to probation with a restraining order, enabling the abuser to return, and attack the victim.
- The victim may believe they are responsible for making their relationship work. Failure to maintain the relationship equals failure as a person.
- A victim becomes isolated from friends and family because they are ashamed and stay away to hide the physical signs of abuse from the outside world.
- A victim might blame the abuse on outside stressors like alcohol consumption, problems at work, or unemployment and financial problems.
- A victim sees the abuse as the abuser just “letting off steam,” in the otherwise romantic relationship.
- Fear that a shelter will not provide enough care, or that they will not be allowed to stay long enough to find a new home.
At Harbor House, the length of stay for those seeking emergency shelter can vary based on individual needs but it typically takes 90 days to move on to a path of independent, safe housing. Harbor House has the unique ability to connect victims to OhioGuidestone’s continuum of quality programs available through our New Philadelphia location.
Help is Here
Harbor House’s exact location is confidential. It is within the Appalachian region of Ohio, an area that has a high level of poverty, high incidences of domestic abuse, and where many households have pets who also need protection.
Thanks to a grant from PetSmart Charities, we have on-site accommodations for family pets, removing one of the most common barriers that prevents victims from leaving. Domestic Violence is not gender specific, in fact Harbor House is considered both a men’s domestic violence shelter, and a women’s domestic violence shelter.
To those who reach out to us at OhioGuidestone, we will do everything we can to help you get out of a dangerous situation. Our counseling services can help put a family back together when there is hope for an abuser to learn anger management skills or recover from substance abuse, or with Harbor House we can help you start over after escaping an abuser.
Harbor House has been a source of refuge and healing since 1985, helping victims from all parts of Ohio regardless of race, ethnicity, age, color, religion, or gender identification.
OhioGuidestone can help
Are you in need of our services? Contact us today to learn more about next steps and the kind of care you can expect from OhioGuidestone.