Shelter offers a new beginning
The Domestic Violence Intervention (DVI) shelter has existed since 1988 by providing women and their children of domestic violence with the help they need to escape their abuser.
DVI is able to provide an emergency two-week stay or accommodations for up to three months, said Karen Moessner, executive director of DVI. Typically, she said most families stay for two to three months. The shelter has three bedrooms that can sleep nine people.
“When families enter the house, DVI has already provided them with the necessities they will need for the first few days,” said Moessner. “We have bathroom essentials, a washer and dryer, as well as food for three days until they are able to get emergency food stamps.”
The shelter can also provide emergency hotel stays for several nights if a room is not available at the shelter. Other services that DVI provides includes a 24/7 crisis lifeline, transportation, emergency food and clothing, referrals to community resources, support group and peer counseling, legal advocacy, sexual assault advocacy and medical care. All services provided to victims and their children are offered free of charge, said Moessner.
The families are encouraged to use Volunteer Attorney for Rural Nevada for custody and divorce papers, social security and immigration needs.
“A lot of our women are able to get divorces for free through this program,” said Moessner.
The Violence Against Women and Family Violence and Protection Services Act fund the shelter. The funding helps pay for expenses that the shelter ensues, said Moessner, and the shelter expenses are the only thing the funding pays for.
Moessner also said families that stay at the shelter and who have pets are able to leave them at the city pound for the length of their stay free of charge.
“If families do leave their pets at the pound while they are staying at the shelter, we do encourage them to volunteer there,” said Moessner.
Moessner said they are looking into a grant called Red Rover to help families of abuse and their pets. The grant will allow families to bring their pets with them instead of leaving them behind.
DVI puts victims in touch with the employment office as well as Job Opportunities in Nevada (JOIN) to help get them back on their feet financially. Moessner said victims are encouraged to file for unemployment while they are in the transitioning period.
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused or denied. Such was the case for one woman who now resides as the shelter manager.
Charlotte married in 2011 to a man she had known for years. Shortly after they were married, life for Charlotte started to deteriorate. Her once loving husband started to become abusive toward her.
Charlotte knew that wasn’t the life she wanted for herself, so she filed for divorce, after her husband received the divorce papers, things proceeded to get worse for her.
“That’s when the physical abuse started,’ she said. It happened daily and it didn’t matter what I said or did.”
At that point Charlotte knew that it was going to be a challenge to leave him. He became more controlling, he monitored who she was able to interact with, he became jealous of her daughter and he wouldn’t allow Charlotte to contact her. Charlotte said he wouldn’t let her go shopping by herself and when they did go out he only bought what he wanted. He controlled the finances, wouldn’t let her eat unless he was eating with her and he controlled her medication.
“The brain washing that goes on, you think you deserve it, you think you did something wrong whether you did something or not” said Charlotte.
Charlotte’s husband was sexually abusing her while she slept. He wouldn’t allow me to take my medication until he was ready for me to take it at night, said Charlotte.
“It took me awhile to realize he was sexually abusing me in my sleep,” Charlotte said. “It got to the point to where he would sexually abuse me whenever he felt like it.”
The abuse didn’t just happen against Charlotte. The abuse also happened toward her animal. Charlotte suspected that her husband killed her sheep and cat that she had for 14 years.
“He controlled every aspect of my life,” she pointed out. “I wasn’t able to make any decisions … I had no mind.”
The final straw occurred one day when her husband beat her so bad that he almost broke her jaw.
“Had my daughter not been at the house that night,” Charlotte said, “I would have shot him. I thank my daughter for that.”
Charlotte contacted the Domestic Violence Coalition (DVC) for help. The coalition put together an emergency restraining order against her husband and had him removed from their house within six hours. The coalition also provided Charlotte with assistance to get her out of the city in which she was living in and into a new one. To Charlotte’s dismay, one of her husbands’ acquaintances, discovered her after only four weeks of living there.
Once again Charlotte escaped to a new city, which was Fallon. With the help of the DVC, Charlotte contacted Domestic Violence Intervention (DVI) to help get her back on her feet.
DVI has helped Charlotte in so many ways, she said. They have provided her with a roof over her head, counselors, medical care, transportation, clothes, legal help and an endless amount of support.
“You’re constantly in fear. I still am,” she said. “I’m working on it, I go through a lot of therapy.”
Charlotte has lived in Fallon for more than eight months now and is slowly finding her old self. She is now the shelter manager for DVI.
“I enjoy being the shelter manager, I love helping other women,” she added.
As shelter manager, Charlotte is in charge of the house. She went through training to become certified. She makes sure that things run smoothly with each family that stays there. Charlotte puts together weekly meetings, prevents problems before they even start if more than one family is staying at the shelter and ensures the house is in good shape before new families move in and after they leave.
“I love the kids and the families. I’m glad I’m able to give back in some way,” she said. Charlotte also noted that her ex husband has yet to be charged with any crime toward her.
Charlotte recommends other victims to contact someone if they are being abused. “Don’t be afraid to get help. You are not the only one who is a victim of domestic violence. There is someone out there who is willing to listen and to help.”