Domestic abuse happens everywhere.
One example comes from nearby, affluent Johnson County, Kansas.
There, District Attorney Steve Howe is helping to create a “one-stop location where abuse victims can find legal services, housing and other help in one place to gain freedom from abuse. The wealthy county’s shelter, SafeHome, turned away about 2,300 adults and children in 2018, up 29 percent from 2017.
Domestic abuse involves people from all economic and ethnic groups, but abuse numbers are higher generally where the income is lower, based on a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report that found poorer women are disproportionally affected.
For all the comparative wealth in Johnson County, where the median family income is $90,390, the need is far greater than the abuse center there can meet.
Now consider Ray County, Missouri.
Median family income here is just $57,270. Based on HHS information, this suggests there is a greater need here, proportionally, for an abuse shelter than in Johnson County.
But there is no shelter here.
No place where an abused adult alone, or with children, can escape violence.
No 24-hour staff with the skills necessary to help abuse victims receive immediate aid and to later teach skills that would allow abuse victims to earn a living on their own.
Some abuse victims have family or friends, and transportation – key factors for an escape from violence, at least in some cases. But not all victims are so fortunate. They may have family or friends, but even if they do, the abusive companion may be so controlling that the victim is not allowed to communicate with other people. For the same reason, the victim may not be allowed access to a vehicle, leaving the victim trapped and at the abuser’s mercy.
The situation for many abuse victims, mostly women, is cruel. If they can get assistance, then they do so mainly because someone in another county helps them – meaning Ray Countians do little to care for their own.
This is not to suggest Ray Countians do not care. But the reality is that – with a median family income of less than $60,000 – many needs go unmet because there simply is not enough money to go around.
Lack of wealth is a setback, but a relatively new group, Chrysalis House, does not accept that as an excuse for doing nothing. The group has worked quietly for about two years toward establishing an abuse shelter in Ray County. At this point, board member Lori Young said, the group has been promised the donation of a house in early 2020.
Getting the house would be a major step, but only a step, toward establishing a Ray County shelter. Much more help will be needed to make the building suitable for use and to provide staffing and supplies.
Young and fellow board members cannot do everything alone.
They need help. Based on the critical nature of their cause, they deserve help.
To help Chrysalis House, call Young at 816-615-1981.