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Turning Point works to empower abuse victims in safe atmosphere

Published: Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

The truth is there is no reason any resident of McHenry County should suffer homelessness, but still many do.

Turning Point serves the critical needs of women, children and men whose homes are defined by violence and danger. These individuals live with the constant risk that an abuser will erupt in anger and cause mental, emotional or physical harm.

On Jan. 4, 2007, Turning Point opened the only secure emergency shelter for women and children in domestic violence crisis in McHenry County. In 2013, Turning Point is on track to shelter 125 women and children who are homeless because of serious, and potentially lethal, domestic violence crisis.

Currently, 90 percent of reported domestic crime is perpetrated by males victimizing their partners, and, in up to 60 percent of cases, their children. Turning Point is ready 24 hours a day, every day, to ensure our neighbors’ basic right to safety and to protect those in need.

The agency’s mission is to confront violence against women and children in McHenry County. Turning Point provides comprehensive services that help adult and child victims, as well as perpetrators, learn how to stop the abuse in their lives.

Domestic violence is one of the most heinous reasons for homelessness. The work of Turning Point provides community members with an alternative to living in violence. Our staff encourages empowered futures free from violence, beginning with the outreach education for our youth. Community outreach programs teach healthy, nonviolent approaches to peer interaction and teen dating relationships.

When domestic violence does occur, Turning Point advocates provide 24-hour crisis intervention and stabilization, emergency secure shelter, individual and group counseling for adult and child victims, mental health therapy for adult and child victims, and a program for perpetrators to learn healthy reactions to feelings of anger.

Emergency secure shelter provides victims with safety from severe abuse, and helps empower them to live free of violence. The lives of families change dramatically in the short 60 days that victims may reside in shelter. We seldom know the full outcome of our work, but occasionally a former client will share the news of his or her successful achievement in personal and professional goals.

We all know someone who has lived through domestic violence. Their success would not be possible without the collaborative support of other community providers working to establish safety in McHenry County.

The Continuum of Care and the Housing Commission provide two of many networking opportunities for social service providers to find safe and affordable housing, employment, education, transportation, and more for families exiting shelter.

Turning Point advocates also depend on our local police officers, workers at the McHenry County Crisis Line, the other Continuum of Care homeless service providers, and court personnel working with our legal advocates.

If you or someone you know is in domestic violence crisis, they can find help at Turning Point at 815-338-8081 or through the McHenry County Crisis Line after 7:30 p.m. or on weekends at 800-892-8900.

• Mary Anne Weltch is development director at Turning Point.

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