BUFFALO, Mo.–Poverty, drugs, and a lack of jobs are some of the factors affecting the prevalence of domestic violence in Dallas County.
To try and combat these issues, the House of Hope based in Bolivar, has expanded their services to Buffalo.
In the year since the outreach center opened, the staff has served more than 700 women by providing services such as support groups, crisis intervention, and medical advocacy.
If a victim needs a place to stay, staff members will help them get to the House of Hope shelter in Bolivar.
“Everyday was a challenge. I didn’t know what to expect. The moment I woke up normally walking on egg shells,” says Valerie Lewis, an abuse survivor/House of Hope advocate.
For years, Lewis and her children were abused by her husband, until she left him and ran into the arms of staff members at the House of Hope.
“They helped me with the ex parte during my divorce. My divorce, they went with me. I had an advocate that was just incredibly supportive,” says Lewis.
That advocate was Emily Blomenkamp. She says one of the biggest challenges for women needing support in rural areas is access to it.
“In rural areas, it’s much harder for a victim to reach out for services so we’ll do a lot of safety planning with law enforcement, trying to get them out to the residence and bring them into town where we can meet them safely to get them into shelter or other services,” says Blomenkamp, a House of Hope advocate.
“We contact the shelter in Bolivar to see if they have any open beds or anything for them at the time. What will usually happen is they try and find transportation to meet at our main office,” says Heather Bower, a House of Hope advocate.
Lewis knows what it was like to spend many nights at the shelter in Bolivar. Today she’s an advocate for the same organization that helped her.
“Going in meeting somebody, I really would just like to let them know if I can do it, they can,” says Lewis.
If you’re needing help through House of Hope, you can call their crisis line at 417-399-6744.