For many, “home” is one of the safest places they can think of. A sanctuary to unwind, express freely and most of all, to experience love and closeness from family or a spouse.
For domestic violence survivors, however, when the day ends and it is time to go “home”, the torment of abuse and control just begins.
Home becomes a prison of violence and power, where the perpetrator is the one who once promised support and kindness “for better or for worse”.
Since 1974, the Brookings Domestic Abuse Shelter has been a safe haven, as well as, a place for orientation and understanding for survivors of this plaguing phenomenon that, according to statistics, will affect one in every four women during her lifetime.
In order to continue providing all the different services to victims and survivors of domestic violence, the 24-hour shelter is holding its fourth annual “Cycle to Stop the Cycle” fund raising bike ride on Sep. 11 at 9 a.m.
The ride will start at the Brookings Chiropractic Center and there are three different routes available to accommodate all biking levels: 6, 24 or 40 miles. Though pre-registration began on Sep. 3, participants can register up to one hour before the start of the ride. Fees are $30 per individual and $60 per family.
“Fund raisers are vital for the shelter to keep meeting the needs of clients,” said Niki Hoese, associate director at the shelter, adding that in 2009 alone, there were over 2,000 client contacts, with 412 receiving services and 66 receiving actual shelter.
“We provide services to any individual in need; they can feel safe while they are here,” she said.
The shelter began as the Brookings Women’s Center focused on supporting the appropriate development of families in the area. At a local level, the initiative centered on domestic abuse education, information, support groups and referrals to other agencies. At the state level it contributed in legislative matters and training on domestic violence.
Eleven years after the Women’s Center’s founding, community leaders began efforts towards an actual shelter to provide additional services for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The shelter took shape in 1987 at facilities owned by the First Lutheran Church. In 2005, after fundraising efforts and a grant sponsored by Brookings County, the BDAS took roots in its current location.
Some of the key services offered include temporary shelter, rape response at the hospital, comprehensive legal assistance and orientation, support groups, referral to local resources (such as food stamps, housing, clothing), some financial aid and counseling.
“We always try to be very involved in the situation. Every person we meet is so different, each situation has particular needs,” Hoese said.
Although the number of clients served at the shelter has not increased significantly, Hoese said they also had not seen any significant decrease in the community’s needs at the shelter.
The “Cycle to Stop the Cycle” event will also feature games, massages, snow cones and live music to entertain all riders and supporters.
Participants with the most pledges will be eligible to win free massages, a one-year pass to the South Dakota Children’s Museum, a GPS or the grand prize, a bike donated by Sioux River Bicycles & Fitness. This year, the event is featuring a wrap-up celebration and its musical guest of honor is Brookings band Sonic Screwdriver.
Some of the campus organizations involved in the bike ride includes Campus Women’s Coalition, HEROH and Greek Life.
“We have always received great support from so many organizations on campus,” Hoese said.
If students or members of the community are interested in offering support but are unable to participate in the bike ride, they can get in touch with the shelter by calling 605-692-722 or e-mailing [email protected] to request pledge brochures to sponsor the rider of their choice.
Hoese also said that they will need volunteers to help with signage in the routes, cheerleading, setting up and other duties &- all different ways to show support for the shelter. The volunteer meeting will be on Sep. 9 at 5:30 p.m., at the Brookings Chiropractic Center.
#1.1573298:2763313918.jpg:The Brookings Domestic Abuse Shelter gears up this weekend to stop the cycle of abuse.:The Brookings Domestic Abuse Shelter gears up this weekend to stop the cycle of abuse.:PHOTO BY BRIGITTE NORBY