Shelters overcrowded with abuse victims - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Shelters overcrowded with abuse victims

July 22, 2005

Valdosta - The Haven Battered Women's Shelter is bursting at the seams. "We have a 22 bed capacity and we've been running anywhere from 18 to 24 people in the shelter at a time," said Mandy Rowe, Haven Director.

It's full of domestic violence victims trying to escape their abusers. But just because this shelter is at max capacity doesn't mean abuse in our area is on the rise. "We hope its because we're getting the word out and we're providing better services," said Rowe.

Director Mandy Rowe says a full shelter is actually a good thing. It means more women are realizing that there's help out there, and leaving their abusive relationships. "People ask me that all the time, they say do you want women to be abused so you can keep your stats up, but if we're not full, then we're not doing our jobs," said Rowe.

More than four million women fall victim to domestic violence each year, many of them right here in South Georgia. They may hide the bruises and broken bones, but there are a number of warning signs that victims often show. "Nervousness around other people, the lack of ability to look someone in the eye, they keep their head down a lot and are very quiet," said Rowe.

Rowe says getting help and getting out is the only solution, but what happens when there's no more room in shelters like this? "We have online access to bed availability at other shelters across the state," said Rowe.

And they'll make sure they get to that safe place where they can start rebuilding their lives.

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