October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence you can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
Breast cancer awareness dominates the news in October, but the month also belongs to another serious issue: domestic violence.
Male survivors of domestic abuse do not receive as much attention as females. Experts in the field in Indianapolis want to change this gender gap by opening a shelter for these males.
Sheltering Wings has operated in Indiana for two decades. It has taken in women and children who have survived domestic violence.
Cassie Mecklenburg, the shelter’s executive director, admitted they have to do more for male survivors as well:
Now they hope to expand their wingspan to include men as well, whether they are seeking refuge with children or alone.
“It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the needed thing to do for our community,” Mecklenburg said.
After the expansion of their residential facilities, Mecklenburg said they will be able to house “eight male survivors of abuse with the option to expand to 12.”
She said through her work she has found when “you build, they will come” because there is always someone who is seeking refuge from abuse.
Before this expansion, Sheltering Wings could only “provide hotel vouchers or referrals to other facilities.”
The stigma exists whether it’s with domestic violence or rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. This is why males do not always come forward.
Sheltering Wings wants the males to know it is okay to seek and find help. With the ability to house the males, they can fully take advantage of the support from those who work in the shelter.
Males will not just find support and a shoulder to cry on. Sheltering Wings provides help in all aspects of life:
The first thing a survivor sees before entering the doorway into their new home is a sign that says: how many current residents are in the facility, and then breaks down that number into adults and children.
And then above the door in script are the words “This where the healing begins.”
The facility offers assistance with court orders, financial planning, job seeking and more.
Each residential space has its own bathroom and walk-in closet.
Each door and hallway is outfitted with a key-fob system.
There’s a courtyard, a gymnasium with basketball hoops and playground for the little ones.
There’s also a computer lab for residents. And a tv room with video games for teens.
Thankfully Sheltering Wings is not the only facility across the country taking these steps. Mecklenberg said other shelters have started to make changes to bring in male survivors, especially since more men have started speaking out about the abuse.
The BBC aired a documentary Abused By My Girlfriend in February 2019. Alex Skeel, 23, shared his story of abuse from his partner Jordan Worth. She “became the first woman jailed for coercive and controlling behavior in the UK.”
The documentary helped open the door when it comes to male survivors of domestic abuse. A Google search will bring you numerous articles on male survivors after the documentary.
If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual violence, you can reach the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) by calling 1-800-656-4673.DONATE
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to the full extent allowed by law.