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New Shelter for DV Survivors Offers More Beds, Space for Pets

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega New Shelter for DV Survivors Offers More Beds, Space for PetsPhoto via LSS CHOICES.
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Central Ohio domestic violence survivors will soon have access to a bigger facility with more resources for recovery. Lutheran Social Services (LSS) CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence, the county’s sole DV shelter and 24-hour crisis hotline, will open the doors of its brand new facility in mid-January.

At 47,000 square feet, the new shelter triples the capacity of LSS CHOICES’ previous home, increasing the number of beds from 51 to 120, and offering enough room to grow by 48 more beds. 

“Through the outstanding generosity of the central Ohio community, the opening of this new, much-needed shelter has been made possible, and we are beyond grateful,” said Sue Villilo, assistant vice president of community-based services of LSS CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence, in a press release. “We are now able to provide victims a more welcoming environment that better supports dignity and healing as they leave deeply traumatic situations.”

Residents will stay in clusters, or “households,” with small groups of bedrooms and bathrooms joined by a common area. Resources include a number of meeting and counseling rooms, a secure outdoor area and healing garden, and a kennel and exercise area for pets. 

DV perpetrators are known to use the family pet as an anchor, often subjecting them to abuse as well. Seventy-one percent of pet-owning women seeking an abuse shelter reported that their abuser had injured, threatened or killed their pets, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. This keeps many victims from leaving out of fear for the animal’s safety. At this time, only 3 percent of shelters nationwide allow pets on-site.

A member of the Lutheran Social Services Network of Hope, LSS CHOICES has been offering support for DV victims for nearly 40 years. They house 700 DV survivors each year at their shelter and provide resources for nearly 5,500 annually. This new shelter is the result of a capital campaign that raised more than $15 million. The facility replaces their previous building, which was often overcrowded.

Statistically, one in four women and one in nine men will experience severe intimate partner violence in their lifetime, and those numbers grow (one in three women and one in four men) as the term “violence” is applied more loosely (i.e. slapping, shoving, and pushing). Last year, more than 11,000 police calls were made in the county regarding DV disputes.

“We know that domestic violence tears apart the stability of families in our community,” Mayor Andrew Ginther in the release. “The new LSS CHOICES shelter offers safety to more victims – and their children – helping to break the cycle of violence and begin healing. The city of Columbus is proud to support the work being done by LSS CHOICES and all of their partners.”

Aside from housing LSS CHOICES has other services, including counseling, support groups, and legal and community advocates.

For more information, visit lssnetworkofhope.org.

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