New domestic violence shelter underway in Stoddard County - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New domestic violence shelter underway in Stoddard County

DEXTER, MO (AP) -

A safe home for victims of domestic violence is in the works in Stoddard County, Missouri.

Data shows one in every four women have experienced domestic abuse and, an often overlooked statistic, one in every ten men has also been a victim.

“We basically just saw a need,” Jennifer Land said.

Land and Sharon Darby are the creators of The Next Step organization, a program that helps victims of domestic violence find safe housing and learn how to live on their own.

“Currently, we have a few families that we find housing for and we get them in the housing so that they can actually be in safe places. We check on them, make sure they have all the things they need,” Land said.

Right now, Land said they're limited to only helping two to three families at a time. That's why they're looking for a building big enough to help up to 30 families, both female victims and male.

“We do understand that there are some women who are scared and would be uncomfortable with a man being in the building so we have, you know, separate sides,” Land said.

Land said they have a building picked out, but nothing is final. They're working with the city to make sure they comply with codes and zoning.

“If we can get enough community support, 60 days would be a fantastic amount of time to get a building ready,” Land said.

Gail Sanchez, a therapist who works with domestic abuse victims in Cape Girardeau at Community Counseling Center, said it's good to see community led efforts like this one popping up in the Heartland.

"Community counseling center is a great resource. Safe house for women is a great resource. But those are all located here in Cape. So sometimes getting people from those small communities up here is just impossible. Or very difficult. So having something on the grass roots effort is extremely encouraging for us on the professional side,” Sanchez said.

She says domestic violence is an overlooked issue, especially when talking about male victims.

"Eighty-five percent of the reports of domestic violence are women. So that leaves about 15 percent of the boards being men,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said according to statistics, every nine seconds someone is domestically abused in the United States but stopping it from happening isn't easy.

"Lack of resources or lack of access to resources is a huge problem,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez, Land and Darby agree that's why organizations like The Next Step as well as plenty of community support is so important.

“Without their help, we couldn't have made it this far. And with more help, we can make it a lot farther,” Darby said.

Land said the new shelter would be the only one of its kind in Stoddard County.

They say they appreciate all the help they've already received from the community and welcome more volunteers and donations.

For more information on how you can be a part of this, visit The Next Step website.

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