Of dating college women, 43 percent report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors–that’s just what gets reported. Often access to one’s online accounts has been shared with a partner, facilitating misuse and abuse.
Experiencing violence and abuse while young often increases unhealthy behaviors and generational continuation of this type of relationship in adulthood. How does one grow up to be well adjusted in this sort of environment? For those victims and children who are fortunate enough to reach out to Hope Alliance, there is hope for recovery.
Hope Alliance serves more than 2,500 women, men and children annually, yet in 2019 had to refer over 1,000 to another county for help and shelter. The demand for services for those victimized by family and/or sexual violence is always greater than the ability to meet them.
Central Texas agencies serving victims of abuse have Memorandums of Understanding with each other to take clients from other areas when possible. In 2019, Hope Alliance served 253 clients with Austin addresses, although many may have been Williamson County residents, and SAFE Alliance in Travis County helped 187 Williamson County residents.
Now under the cloud of the pandemic, even fewer can be served. For those needing safe shelter, the 30-bed unit which generally was always full, has been reduced to 50 percent capacity for social distancing needs.
The robust 1-on-1 counseling has been converted to virtual sessions with many people in need unable to participate for lack of technology. And the number of victims has only increased with COVID-19 forcing domestic victims to be with their abusers more hours of the day with stay-at-home orders and loss of jobs.
Now there is HOPE for Hope Alliance. This organization is in the process of purchasing or building a larger facility imminently, which would allow them to consolidate services and expand their shelter in one location.
This project will require major fundraising, and they need our help. A multi-agency center would allow multiple organizations to co-locate under one roof for centralized services.
This consolidation of services like legal and employment assistance, childcare and counseling would improve efficiencies, simplify the path to recovery and provide increased emergency safety provisions for individuals and families.
If you are blessed with the resources, please go to https://www.hopealliancetx.org/and donate. If you can volunteer, there is robust training for you. All of us could make a difference by learning how to identify family and dating abuse, listen to victims, cease blaming the victim and refer them, or even drive them, to Hope Alliance at 1011 Gattis School Road, Suite 110.
Let’s work to lessen this hurtful behavior and support survivors. Together we can do this!