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One in Three or One in Four?

By Marilyn Mackenzie

Internet research provides two differing sets of statistics about the abuse of women. Some web sites claim that one-third of all women worldwide will experience some kind of abuse. Others say the number is only one-fourth of all women. Only? Either of those numbers should make you angry!

No matter where you live, because these statistics are real (just not quite in agreement), you owe it to yourself or to your friends and loved ones to know what resources are available in your area.

As one who has experienced psychological, physical, emotional and financial abuse, I can tell you that being prepared in advance would have been helpful.

In my case, I ended up in an abuse shelter in the city where I resided. My abuser was not in the same state, though, so immediately I became a lower risk than others in the opinion of the shelter leaders. (They were wrong. My abuser traveled three days to get to the city where I had fled.)

At the time I had not yet been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic pain or chronic fatigue. My medical files did show, though, that I had a back injury in 1997, a car accident and neck injury in 2000, and a knee injury and surgery in 2001. I was receiving no income when I arrived at the shelter.

This particular women's abuse shelter had very strict rules. Each woman who arrived had only 30 days in which to find a job or other income and a place to live. The shelter worked with other non-profits to help women with things like deposits and furnishings. But the 30 day rule was never changed.

I didn't really know how strict that rule was when I arrived. It wasn't until the last day of my 30 days that I found out how serious they were about it. Before that, my particular counselor thought that since I was actively seeking work, disability assistance, medical assistance, etc. that there would be an exception made. There was not, and on December 15, I was told to pack my bags, even though that was the scheduled day for the annual Christmas party for whatever residents were there. And even though the night before I had been in the emergency room with an injured foot. My counselor handed me a Christmas gift and said she was sorry as I left.

When I asked where I should go, none of the counselors had good answers. One suggested the regular homeless shelter in town. There I could have three days of shelter, and would have been back on the street. Fortunately, I did find somewhere else to go.

This message is not meant to scare women into not seeking shelter. Instead, it is a wake-up call to all women to find out about what shelters are available in their areas.

I wish I had known that there was another shelter just 20 miles away from the town where I lived. That shelter had an excellent program. Women were allowed to spend 60 days in the shelter, or longer if they were showing progress in finding other help.

Additionally, this other shelter had transitional housing opportunities available. Women who were actively trying to help themselves and who had not found or could not find permanent housing after 30 to 60 days were allowed to move to transitional housing, operated by the same organization. They also had a network of other non-profits that would help gather furnishings, linens, etc. They offered long-distance calling cards, bus passes for public transportation, and many other services.

The shelter that I found out about months after I was kicked out of the first one was certainly where I should have gone in the first place. They provided assistance in numerous ways, and if a woman needed help in ways that they had not considered, they found ways to provide it.

Staying in an abusive situation should never be an option. Going to any abuse shelter is better than staying. But since we know that between 25% and 33% of all women will be abused, shouldn't we be armed with knowledge of what services are available in our areas, what shelters are available and how they differ in their programs? Someone will need that information. It could be our neighbor, our friend, or our relative. Or we could be the one in need.

National Domestic Violence Hotline. 24 Hours a day. All 50 states. Translators available. 1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1 (800) 787–3224 or visit their website 

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 

Domestic Abuse Women's Network 

Domestic Violence Hotlines and Resources 

Health Gazette 

Medline Plus 

Marilyn Mackenzie has been writing about home, family, faith and nature for over 40 years. She is an author on Creative Writingwhich is a site for Creative Writers. Her portfolio can be found at Writing.Com 

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