Numbers on rise
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in our nation. The Council Against Domestic Abuse/ Sexual Assault (CADA/SA) has partnered with Lake Avenue businesses in Storm Lake to raise awareness of the effects of domestic violence in our community by presenting "The Invisible March".
CADA's Julie Schulenberg came up with the "Footprints" idea as a way of dramatizing the violence faced by area women.
Footprints depicting the 138 Iowans that have died as a result of domestic violence since 1995 will be placed in the windows of participating merchants located between 5th and 6th on Lake Avenue. Each set of footprints will include a victim's story. These stories come from the Iowa Attorney General's yearly report on domestic abuse. The Invisible March will run October 14 through the end of the month.
Two of the stories originate in Storm Lake within the past year. One was a woman stabbed by her husband, the other of a woman from Storm Lake and her father from California who were killed by an angry husband, Schulenberg said.
"We hope everyone in the community will take a moment to honor the victims by reading their stories and realizing the impact of domestic violence in our community. CADA/SA would like to thank the participating merchants for their willingness to address such a difficult issue," she said.
"Be sure to stop in and tell them thank you for taking a stand," Schulenberg said.
The footprints are of varying sizes, representing women, children and even men lost to violence in the state.
The death total from abuse in Iowa is up eight so far in 2005 compared to the total as of October of 2004, Schulenberg said.
CADA serves four counties including Buena Vista, and operates a safehouse shelter at a site within that area. The agency is averaging 300-400 people served per year.
The need has changed somewhat, said Schulenberg. "This is a largely rural area, so response times to trouble can be longer. So if women need a safe place to stay, by all means we utilize the shelter. But with changes in the laws and more use of no-contact orders, there are less extended stays in shelters, and more often we are helping people find a place to live, helping them to find legal remedies, counseling and support groups, and financial aid."
Law enforcement officers have been helpful in that process.
Financially, the funding groups like CADA have depended on have been cut by federal and state government, and some programs have merged, making grants sometimes more difficult to land.
"We have had to depend more on donations and help from the counties," Schulenberg said. "The state cut its funding for abuse programs, and the attorney general's office has been helping us out from reserves, but we realize those reserves will not last for long."
Financial donations are particularly needed for the local CADA program. Food, paper products, diapers, laundry materials and other goods are often needed as well. Interested donors may contact CADA for a wish list of items currently needed.
If you have any questions or concerns about domestic violence, please call CADA/SA at 1-800-225-7233.