I’m concerned after reading the Feb. 12 article in this newspaper about our local domestic violence shelter, Sheltered Aid to Families in Emergencies (SAFE) Inc., closing on Feb. 14 due to lack of funding. This is a huge loss to our county and region.

Have you ever known a person who could not sleep out of fear that their abusive significant other would stalk them and break in to murder? Have you ever known a child who heard their father whisper to their mother that he would kill the children if she left him? Have you ever known a child that stepped between arguing parents to have their father knock out their mother over the child’s head? Have you ever had to walk into court for the first time alone to talk to judicial staff about your biggest secret of being abused and fearful?

These are only a few of the possible situations that can occur in an abusive relationship. This issue is close to my heart because I lived those scenarios as a child in my home. No one except close family was aware of our circumstances. Luckily, my mother was brave and had access to SAFE along with family support. They provided a safe shelter to her, my brother, and myself. They offered resources to get linked for various supports including legal advocacy.

Now, I’m a nationally and state licensed mental health and substance abuse professional. I have worked with various people and families to address this issue. Domestic violence is a pervasive, lethal issue that knows no social, financial, or racial barriers.

A woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds in the U.S., according to the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV) 2018-19 Statistical Brief,

Between Jan. 1 and 24, 2020, there were nine domestic-related homicides in North Carolina. In 2019, there were 56 such homicides in the state, including one in September in Wilkes County. A woman was charged with murder in the death of her boyfriend in Ferguson. The man who died was my brother-in-law. This shows that domestic violence is not only a “women’s” issue; it’s an issue for everyone.

SAFE Inc. was noted to have served 267 residents between 2018 and 2019. That year the shelter was full 326 days and other locations had to be utilized for residents in need of assistance. Having a local domestic violence shelter in our county and region is not a “want,” but is a “need” for our residents.

I emailed our state senators, representatives and the Wilkes County commissioners to share my concerns. Without access to a safe environment and supportive resources, I fear that I will be reading more gruesome articles in the local paper. There will be negative repercussions from a loss of this magnitude. I believe our residents can pull together and maintain this resource.

VALERIE VICKERS-ROBINSON,

Millers Creek, N.C.

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