IRON MOUNTAIN - October is National Domestic Violence Month.
Crosses in front of First Covenant Church in Iron Mountain are the reflection of lives that were lost during the year due to domestic violence.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) conducts a national one-day survey of the nation's domestic violence programs.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Gathered for a picture in front of the crosses at First Covenant Church in Iron Mountain are Dickinson County representatives, from left, Sheriff Scott A. Celello; Sgt. Kurt A. Rosenthal of the Iron Mountain Police Department; Captain Fred Smith of the Norway Police Department; Trooper Geno Basanese of the Michigan State Police Iron Mountain Post; Sgt. Brian Metras of the Kingsford Public Safety Department; District Court Judge Chris Ninomiya; Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Richards; Probate Judge Tom Slagle; Tara Wery, child-teen advocate for the Caring House; Donna Fayas-Johnson, Caring House advocate; Director of Caring House Cheryl O’Neil; and Marti Swisher, Caring House Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) advocate.
Cheryl O'Neil, director of the Caring House in Iron Mountain, said this year's report reflects that three women die each day due to domestic violence. In the state of Michigan during one day: 2,550 victims were served, 1,694 victims sought refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing, 856 adults and children received non-residential assistance, and 562 hotline calls were answered.
The Iron Mountain area is no exception.
O'Neil said the Caring House serves more than 500 individuals annually, provides assistance to 1,400 crisis calls and nearly 2,000 bed nights.
"The reality is that domestic violence is on an increase in our community, state and nation. A declining economy in the U.S. has affected all Americans, but disproportionately affected victims of domestic violence," O'Neil said. "While a bad economy does not cause domestic violence, it limits resources and services to victims and thereby limits victims' choices and options. Caring House, as other programs from across the nation, experienced a decrease in grant revenue and donations and is faced with funding cuts across the board," O'Neil said.
O'Neil added that victims, regardless of their income level, are reluctant to leave their abusers because they're afraid they'll lose their jobs in this time of economic uncertainty and not have the resources to support their children.
"Be a part of the solution. Help change the lives for our community's most vulnerable victims and their children," O'Neil said.
For further information on how to make a difference, call the Caring House at 774-1337.