Domestic violence shelter to hold awards ceremony

By Jean Volz

Victims of domestic violence who need a place to turn to or a shoulder to lean on can rest assured that DeKalb has a support organization at their disposal. In turn, that organization needs the support of the DeKalb community.

Safe Passage is a local organization founded in the 1980s that offers assistance to people involved in all aspects of domestic violence situations, according to Pam Wiseman, Safe Passage executive director.

In recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Safe Passage and the County Domestic Violence Agency will be holding a fundraiser and awards ceremony from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 18, at the Crystal Pistol Beach Club, 1312 W. Lincoln Hwy. in DeKalb.

At the beginning stages of the organization, shelters were located in community volunteers’ homes; later, Safe Passage purchased property where a house was built to board victims of domestic abuse, Wiseman said.

“At the shelter, there has been more new people than ever this year. The shelter sees approximately 100 people a month with the average stay being two weeks,” she said.

Wiseman said this year the shelter has seen more victims than in years prior. She attributes this to the growth in population and the increase of awareness in domestic violence.

This organization receives its funding via state, local and federal grants; however, donations made by many private sectors further diversifies Safe Passage’s funds, she added.

Wiseman said the money that is endowed provides a foundation which enables Safe Passage to provide a network of help for domestic violence victims, children and abusers.

Among the support system programs that the non-profit organization provides is a crisis phone-line, which is accessible 24 hours a day.

In addition to its shelter, Safe Passage also offers counseling and education for anyone involved in a domestic violence situation.

According to Wiseman, in January of this year a program was enacted to provide counseling to abusers for a fee. The DeKalb County Abuse Program is a result of a task force two years ago which found there was not adequate services available for abusers.

However, the network of concern that Safe Passage harbors does not stop at counseling. Wiseman said the organization also helps students wanting to engage in legal aspects of domestic abuse.

By helping the abused obtain legal orders of protection against their abusers and offering comfort through court proceedings, Wiseman said Safe Passage is a valuable shoulder to lean on in times of a domestic crisis.

As of 1993, domestic violence laws also protect dating individuals who are n abusive relationships.

If any students are in a violent relationship, they are encouraged to call Safe Passage’s crisis line at 756-5228.

A donation of three dollars will be requested at the door and the public is welcome. Safe Passage will be having a client and a survivor of domestic violence speaking.

Anyone interested in nominating someone for this award should send a one-page letter explaining why the individual should be a recipient to Safe Passage, P.O. Box 621, DeKalb, by Oct. 1.

Interested individuals should call Pam Wiseman at 756-7930.