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“We’re here to support you:” Domestic violence, sex assault victims encouraged to seek help

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 3:10 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Advocates that work with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors are issuing a plea for victims to come forward.

They’re seeing a slight increase in violence and abuse, but it’s the severity that has them concerned.

The bedrooms at Golden House in Green Bay are filling up faster than the shelter ever wants to see.

They’ve been at capacity for months, but the shelter is only a small part of the work the non-profit does to help people escape domestic violence.

“We have served over 577 clients just between the end of March and as of right now, so the numbers are going up,” says Golden House executive director Cheeia Lo.

But Lo says it’s not the kind of physical and abusive behavior a lot of people immediately assume.

“They think of the bruises, the punches or the putting down, but they don’t think of the financial abuse. So we have people that have come in and ask us, you know, I’m on the verge of eviction because my partner has been controlling all of our money. How do I stay in my place?” explains Lo.

Golden House sets aside $30,000 each year to help with rent, childcare and other needs.

That money is already gone.

Knowing the need is growing, both Golden House and the Sexual Assault Center want victims to know they’re still there to help.

“There’s a lot of shame. There might be self blame, and that inhibits people from speaking out and seeking help, so we just want victims to know that they aren’t alone,” says Holli Fisher, program manager at the Sexual Assault Center.

The center is seeing a big increase in child victims.

Why, they don’t know, but it is more than half the people the agency serves.

“So last year we served over 700 children. So far in 2020, we have served over 500 child victims... all ages, zero to 17,” says Fisher.

Usually the number of kids coming forward increases when school resumes and the center starts prevention campaigns in school.

With those programs all going virtual, Fisher worries it’ll be harder for some victims to speak out, so she’s reassuring them and their families that help is still there.

“Even if someone doesn’t believe you, keep telling adults until someone does believe you,” says Fisher.

“We’re here to support you. You don’t need to do this alone,” says Lo.

Click here for a list of resources to help abuse victims.

CONTACT INFO:

Golden House: 920-435-0100

Sexual Assault Center: 920-436-8899

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