For the Antigo Times
The 2016 year was full of unanticipated change across the country. According to End Abuse Wisconsin, 2015 demonstrated some of the highest numbers of domestic violence homicide in the fifteen-year period that the program has been publishing its annual Homicide Report. While statewide numbers are still being tallied for 2016, according to Tony Gibart of End Abuse Wisconsin, preliminary reports are pointing to another increase in deaths due to domestic violence.
The numbers are in for Langlade County.
AVAIL (Advocates for Victims of Abuse in Langlade County) has seen a record-breaking spike in the need for emergency shelter services. The non-profit organization initiated by Chief of Police Bob Brehm in 1980 has completed the tally of the community’s need for shelter services last year and the results are alarming. The five bedroom shelter housed an average of 11 people per night for every day of 2016. This trend demonstrates an 18% spike in the displacement of individuals and families due to domestic violence.
“According to last year’s statistics, 57% of those sheltered by AVAIL in 2016 were children. 38% of victims were women and 5% were men. The average child sheltered at AVAIL is just six years of age,” Michelle Arrowood, Executive Director of AVAIL, commented. “We could not provide shelter to 52 households that qualified for it in 2016 due to the lack of bed space in our facility. Those folks needed to temporarily relocate to other communities or waited in the abusive situation in hopes that something would open up here.”
“Emergency shelter services are critical to curbing crimes such as assault, rape, and homicide that are appearing more and more frequently in news across our state,” Arrowood added. “The shelter works to assist county law enforcement officers and social services staff in providing a safe alternative for families that is non-intrusive and positive, while cost effective for the community as it connects victims with private community donations and limits overtime for officials that need to respond to domestic violence situations. We are grateful to the community for helping us to serve our friends and neighbors right here in our home community.”
For more information on services provided by AVAIL or on ways to help, call (715) 623-5177 or go to www.availinc.org.