OREGON COUNTY -- One hundred and forty eight restraint orders due to domestic violence were filed last year in Oregon County.
Christos House Oregon County Outreach Coordinator, Sherry Fohey, said that number alone is evidence that a need for domestic violence assistance is needed in the county.
The new Christos House Oregon County Outreach Center was welcomed with a ribbon cutting by the Alton Chamber of Commerce June 15. The new center is located at 804 Broadway in Alton.
Fohey said everything in the center is donated. It has a fully equipped kitchen, a ladies room where crafts and a computer can be used and a children's room where youngsters can play while their mother attends a group session or class.
"We want county residents to understand this is not just for the residents of Alton, it is intended for use by the entire county," Fohey said.
Fohey said domestic violence is abusive behavior whether physical, verbal, emotional or psychological between adults and family members. "The relationship may be one of marriage, co-habitation or dating. Domestic violence is a severe problem in our community that results in shattered dreams, broken homes and damaged lives," she said.
One out of every four women in the United States will suffer some kind of abuse at the hands of an intimate partner in their lifetime.
"Very few will tell anyone, not police, not a neighbor, not a relative, not even a friend," she said.
Fohey said victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life, all cultures, all income levels, all ages and all religions. "What they share are feelings of helplessness, isolation, guilt, fear and most of all shame," she said.
She said the Outreach Center will establish support groups in the near future. They will include:
* Young Mom's -- This group will be for moms 19 and younger who may or may not be in school. This support group will give young mothers an opportunity to discuss issues that may be unique to them in a caring, supportive and non-judgmental environment. The group will meet Monday from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
* Girls ages 9-13 -- This group will be named and defined by the group and will include speakers and topics on a variety of today's issues in a young ladies life. A list of possible topics and speakers are available upon request. This group will meet 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
* Girls ages 14-18 -- This group will also be named and defined by the group and will include speakers and topics on a variety of today's issues in a young ladies life. A list of possible topics and speakers are available upon request. The group will meet 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
* Domestic Violence Survivors Group -- This group is for women currently living with violence in their lives, and those who have broke free, to talk about the violence with others who understand, do not judge, and support their right to pick the options that are best for them. This group's focus will be empowering themselves and each other in a confidential atmosphere and realizing they are not alone. This group will meet on Thursday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
* Women's Support Group -- This group is for every woman. Women will come together from all walks of life to support and understand each others concerns, fears, joys, sorrows and triumphs. This group will meet Friday at 10 a.m.
* Parenting Classes I -- These classes are for parents who have been either court ordered or requested by the Division of Family Services to attend the class. The classes are for parents who do not currently have custody of their children. These classes will last six weeks and will be held on Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Parenting Classes II -- These classes are for parents that have custody of their children and may or may not have had a request from the Division of Family Services or the court system to attend parenting classes. These classes will last six weeks and will also be held on Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
All of the above support groups and classes will be held at the Christos House Outreach Center in Alton.
The Outreach Center receives federal and state funds as well as help through grants to stay operational. Fohey said the center is always in need of donations especially diapers and women's toiletries. She said volunteers at the center are always needed.
"The county and the community have been very supportive of our efforts at the Oregon County Outreach Center. If it were not for them, this center would not have happened," Fohey said.
Fohey said anyone that would like to volunteer, make a donation, or learn more about class sessions can call her at 417-778-1773.