LISBON — Advocates and supporters of victims of domestic violence plan to “take back the night” with a program and march at 6 p.m. Thursday, starting at the Christina Center on East Washington Street.
“We are celebrating National Domestic Violence Awareness Month to mourn the victims who did not survive, to celebrate with the victims who are now survivors, and to say thank you to those who work in the field of domestic violence and support the cause of domestic violence awareness,” said Beth Schmitt.
Schmitt has been program director of the domestic violence shelter Christina House, a program of the Regional Agency for Catholic Charities, since its inception 25 years ago. She actually predates the Christina House/Christina Center program, first working at the former domestic violence shelter SAVE which opened in 1989 on Market Street in Lisbon.
She estimated that thousands of women have been helped since the Christina House program began, providing emergency shelter in Lisbon, counselling, case management and legal defence.
People in need of help can call the 24-hour crisis line at 330-420-0036 to speak to a qualified attorney. People who want to file a protective order can call agency attorney Elaine Kloss at 330-420-0845 for help.
“In 25 years, you think you’ve seen it all, and then you see more” said Schmidt.
Most of the violence happens at night and she explained that’s where the idea came from to hold this year’s event in the evening, with the national theme “We are resilient.” Columbiana County Attorney Vito Abruzzino will be the guest speaker and a proclamation from the county commissioners will be read. The Christina House Collaborative Council will be recognized and program staff will talk about what they do.
Escorted by Lisbon police, walkers will follow a route that begins at the Christina Center, turns north on Market Street, turns east on Lincoln Way to Jefferson, then heads south on Jefferson to Washington. Street to end at the Christina Center. Schmitt said “We try to attract as many people as possible.”
At a recent meeting, commissioners declared October National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, urging “all citizens to learn more about preventing domestic violence and to show their support for organizations and individuals who provide essential advocacy, services and assistance to victims”.
Since the pandemic, Schmitt said the numbers have gone down for the shelter, but the numbers for the avocado are up. From January to September of this year, 19 women and 24 children were accommodated at Maison Christina. There were 304 crisis calls, 1,179 referral calls and 2,013 people reached through outreach. Kloss has seen 486 clients, with 175 protection orders issued.
Outreach Coordinator, Amy Kavanagh, explained that there are now three types of protection orders: a domestic violence protection order, a civil harassment protection order, and a domestic violence protection order. dating. The Dating Violence Protection Order came into effect last year and can include physical abuse, phone harassment or social media harassment.
Schmitt said when COVID-19 hit and everything had to be locked down, they stayed open the entire time, but received no calls, noting that many victims in this county are not leaving, with or without a pandemic. . The victims were locked in their homes with their attackers and had no way out during COVID-19. People are just starting to call for help, she said.
“I think a lot of women are fighting back too” Kavanagh said.
They get a lot of calls from homeless people looking for help, but the program is for victims of domestic violence. She said there had been more victims of drug problems, but that made no difference. The Christina House is federally funded to house all victims of domestic violence. The calls they receive are from women, but if a man called for help, they would find a way to help.
The agency relies on funding from the federal Victims of Crime Act and the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, as well as a state grant for operating expenses, funding for United Way, a portion of marriage and dissolution license fees, funding from the Department of Employment and Family Services, Catholic charities and donations.
Reviewing history, SAVE had a shelter on Chestnut Street after the Market Street location, then moved to the building now housing the County Health Department in the early 1990s. The agency closed in 1997 , then Catholic Charities called Schmitt to see what could be done to keep the shelter. She served as acting director of SAVE and went on to become program director Christina House, which had its first shelter at a farm near Wooden Hen in 1997. The current location opened in 2000.
Besides Schmitt, Kavanagh and Kloss, other staff members include trauma counselor Daryl Hersh, case manager Debbie Chaffin and emergency relief coordinator Carol Nutter, as well as five shelter monitors.
The average stay at the Christina House shelter is 30 to 90 days. Many women have no vehicles, jobs or anywhere else to go. They face barriers related to lack of public transit, lack of affordable housing, and lack of evening or weekend daycare, which makes it difficult to find employment.
Anyone interested in helping with a donation of needed goods can contact Christina House at 330-420-0036. Tax-deductible donations are also accepted.