Our friends at the Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence have kickstarted Domestic Violence Awareness Month with two goals: education and funding.
Robert Dalton, Executive Director of LCCADV, said: “If you go anywhere in Lincoln County and could see through the walls of houses in neighborhoods, you could see something going on. We know there are victims from every neighborhood and walk of life.”
Oct. 2 the LCCADV held an informational luncheon that was free and open to the public. Participants learned about each staff member and their role in preventing domestic violence in our community. This event was a unique look into the organization and how it operates within Lincoln County– a much-needed perspective for people who haven’t encountered this issue in their lives.
In 2018 alone, the coalition serviced nearly 200 victims of domestic violence and fielded 179 crisis calls through their hotline. Their work doesn’t end when the victim is immediately out of a crisis. Their 15-bed shelter, Amy’s House, is often full as victims have nowhere to go after escaping their abuser.
“The shelter we have now is great and homey, but it’s a 100-year-old mill house. The maintenance is eventually going to get crazy,” Dalton explained. “We are full more often; there are less available beds. We used to be able to call agencies in the area to get a bed, but those days are gone. We have to call 20-30 agencies to get an emergency bed. We could help more folks. We know with more people coming forward, the demand is there.”
That’s why their signature fundraiser, “Unmasking Domestic Violence,” exists. On Oct. 17, this ticketed masquerade gala will take place at the beautiful Laboratory Mill in Lincolnton. All of the proceeds will benefit the new shelter that the coalition is seeking. Staff at the coalition are currently talking to security experts and architects to design and find a location for the new shelter.
So with the need for a new shelter, has Lincoln County seen an uptick in domestic violence cases? Not exactly. “Because of some high profile domestic violence cases, more victims are coming forward to say they need help and not hiding in the shadows,” Dalton said. “They want to rebuild their lives and not live with this. As it becomes more apparent in the public eye, it becomes less stigmatized. Which is great, but we need a bigger shelter.”
The new facility will be able to offer more services to victims and any children they have. The LCCADV has planned to have meditation space for victims to heal and a place for their kids to play and study. “It’s not just building the shelter we need tomorrow; it’s the shelter we’ll need 10-15 years from now,” Dalton said.
While domestic violence affects everyone, it predominantly affects low-income women who are also enduring trauma other than domestic violence.
“What we know is that domestic violence happens every day in our county. We want people to be aware that we’re here,” Dalton said. “We want people to know it could be them, a neighbor, a family member, whoever. Most people know someone who needs our services. We want them to know, when they need us, we’re here. There’s a lot that goes into standing up to an abuser and getting out. When the survivor is ready, we’re ready to help 24 hours a day.”
The LCCADV was founded in 1993 and started offering services in 1994. Two-thirds of their funding comes from federal and state grants because domestic violence victims are considered victims of crime under the law. Dalton said, “I think the government recognizes we owe domestic violence victims a service to help them out.”
The other third of the funding comes from local churches and businesses, including Amy’s Closet which brings in $50,000 a year. Domestic violence victims are also allowed to shop at Amy’s Closet with vouchers provided by the LCCADV. According to Dalton, this portion of the funding allows for repairs, treats for kids, and even helps cover some staff salaries.
For victims, Dalton acknowledges that LCCADV isn’t always the first step. “There’s somebody in their world that helped them,” he said. “Someone had the courage to say, ‘Hey, I notice something is going on here; is everything ok?’ Often it’s those people quietly asking if everything is okay who help them take the next step.”
During the month, Dalton would like to focus on a specific message. “We’re making our community aware they could be the next step in someone escaping domestic violence and changing their world,” he said. “We would love to talk to you about how you can help that person in your life if you suspect domestic violence. You can be somebody’s first step to getting out of a dangerous situation.”
For more information about the coalition, helping someone in need, or purchasing tickets to their upcoming fundraiser, click here. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can reach out for help at LCCADV’s 24 hour hotline at this number: (704) 736-1224.
Melissa Cordell is an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Political Science and Women’s & Gender Studies and is the Staff Reporter to L Town Radio. To email Melissa with a story idea or news tip, contact her here.