Local Organizations Help Domestic Abuse Victims Move On

BRANSON, Mo. -- Studies have found victims in violent relationships may leave their home six to eight times before finally calling it quits for good. But breaking the cycle is only the first step.

"If you come here and you're ready to change your life, and you're ready to not be a victim of domestic violence, we have the tools in place that can help you do that," says Becky Vermeire with the Crisis Center of Taney County.

While we were unable to show the Center's location due to safety concerns,  Vermeire says the Center helps  1,200 to 1,500 victims of domestic violence each year.
"When they come to us, a lot of times they come with nothing but the clothing on their backs. So one of the very first things we do at the crisis center is provide for their basic needs. We're taking about food, clothing, personal hygiene supplies, we provide all of those for residents in our shelter free of charge."

When the shelter in Taney County opened more than 20 years ago, it was offering temporary housing in hotels for 2 to 4 weeks.

But Vermeire says that just wasn't long enough to  establish a new foundation for victims... Such as finding affordable housing, employment and childcare.

Now their shelter offers assistance in a cottage-type setting for 90 days. Vermiere says the extra time helps victims work through red tape and lay a foundation for a new sense of self worth.

"That self worth is such a big piece of it, to where if I have self esteem I'm going to present the best me possible when I go into the work force -- when I go to meet my potential new employer might be.  They're going to see that confidence and security in me. If I go to them broken, they're going to see that as well." 

Vermeire says most violent relationships didn't start that way.
Support from counselors at the shelter help victims to reframe the negative messages of power and control left over from the relationship.

"And you'll see that, you'll see word choices change, you'll see physical appearances change, you'll see just the face change as someone gets a chance to heal." 

Vermiere says she isn't suggesting that change can't be accomplished alone.  But she says the success of support can be see in the victims who continuing coming to group sessions long after they've established a new life.

"It's women helping women, and there's something really significant about that. Hearing someone's story, saying, 'I believe you, I think that was horrible-- what you experienced, and I'm going to do everything I can do to help you through that process.'"

Vermeire says an alarming stat in Missouri is that for everyone one victim of domestic violence a shelter takes in, two more have to be turned away.

To see all of our special reports on domestic violence in the Ozarks, click here  

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