A recent article about a fundraiser for Parksville Qualicum Haven House brought up questions about the facility and related local services.
The house was established in 2013 by the Society of Organized Services (SOS) and the Nanaimo-based Haven Society.
It provides shelter to women and children feeling violence, replacing the SOS’s Safe Home Program which ran for 38 years in Parksville. Haven House offers longer stays and more staff support than the old program.
It was established after years of requests from local residents culminated in a public forum in April, 2012.
“We know many women don’t want to go all the way to Nanaimo,” Haven Executive Director Anne Spilker said at the time.
“Most women don’t want to leave their family, they want the violence to stop. Maybe they hope their leaving will be a wake-up call,” she said of the hard decision, adding that women in abusive relationships leave their partner four to eight times on average.
She said the forum made it clear that a closer location was needed to help women who don’t want to leave whatever resources and support they do have in the community, not to mention the impact on children and employment.
The local house hosted 578 stays in the year ending March 2015 and was full 76 times, said SOS Marketing Coordinator Lissa Alexander.
They also answered more than 1,600 calls, almost 10 per cent of which were crisis calls.
Spilker said 45 per cent of calls to the RCMP involve domestic situations and added that abuse takes many forms including physical, sexual and emotional, like insults and financial control.
The Family Resource Association (FRA) is another good local resource for people looking for help.
Executive Director Deborah Joyce previously said that simple awareness is one of the most important issues. She said if you know of someone experiencing abuse, it is important to quietly let them know you’re there for them, without putting the suspected abuser on the spot, which could make things worse.
“Get the person alone and just offer to support them, call someone for them, help anyway you can,” she said. “And of course if anyone’s in immediate danger we are all obliged to call the police.”
For more information call the FRA at 250-752-6766 or visit http://d69fra.org/ or call the SOS at 250-248-2093 or visit www.sosd69.com.
For information on Haven House visit http://havensociety.com or call 250-248-3500. To access the shelter call 1-888-756-0616.
Anyone experiencing abuse or any immediate danger should call 911.