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Safehouse’s clientele growing

October was designated as Domestic Violence Awareness month, but for the staff at the Mitchell Area Safehouse, domestic violence is a year-round experience.

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“We’re doing the best we can to provide shelter and services,” shelter administrator Marilyn Haley said.

The stories of survivors may help others to avail themselves of shelter services, she said, so they can end the cycle of domestic violence that destroys lives.

“What we do means a lot more when you hear the personal story of someone who has been served by our shelter,” Haley said, referring to a woman named Lori featured in a Daily Republic story. “She is a total success story and we’re all very proud of her. It’s a long journey and she has accomplished so much.”

The need for shelter services has grown in recent years, Haley said, possibly due to a tight economy.

In 2009, the safehouse sheltered 204 women and children for a total of 2,140 shelter days; in 2012 it sheltered 341 women and children for a total of 3,768 shelter days.

Haley said the lack of affordable and safe rental housing has meant longer stays for families than in past years.

There is also a growing awareness of the services offered by the safehouse.

Those include hotline telephone services for women in acute distress. There were 2,500 calls in 2012 and 2,208 calls, so far, in 2013.

Abusers are typically but not always men and can be of any race and socioeconomic class.

The safehouse has educational opportunities aimed at ending the cycle of violence in the home. There are also support groups and parenting classes.