Christos House Oregon County Outreach Center Administrator, Sherry Fohey, wants area residents to know that in conjuction with National Domestic Violence Month, the local Christos House will be holding a Survivor Support Group meeting Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Outreach Center located at 804 West Broadway in Alton.
"This meeting is for everyone. We will have women speaking that have been out of abusive situations and women who are still in abusive situation. We invite everyone to come. Even if you are a man or woman that is not in such a relationship, but might know someone in an abusive situation, our meeting might help them help the person they know is being abused," Fohey said.
The outreach center opened at Alton in May of 2007. Since its inception, it has helped over 300 women bringing with them more than 700 children. This does not mean all these women have been sheltered at Christos House. "It means women and men also may have been referred here by a court or social services. Family Services in Oregon County even uses our house for supervised child visitation," Fohey said.
"We just want to make sure people are aware there is a problem in the area. It is a silent problem. It is usually where the same person abuses the same person over and over," she said.
Fohey is convinced the word needs to be heard that there is a place for abuse victims to come to in the county. "We would like to start a support group at Thayer if enough interest is shown. The meetings would be on Thursday evenings. If you are interested I can be reached at 417-778-1773," she said.
The outreach house at Alton is always looking for volunteers not only at the house but at the Christos House Store located on the court square in Alton. Fohey said the store offers a little bit of everything but furniture. The house gives vouchers to those in great need and others can purchase items from the store at a very low cost.
"All the money collected at the Christos House Store in Alton stays in Oregon County and goes back into our outreach program. Our outreach center (the actual house) is funded by grants and fundraisers. As a matter of fact, we had a yard sale as a fundraiser last week with all the proceeds going back into the Oregon County Christos House Outreach Center at Alton," she said.
Protection is a large part of the local outreach program. "Just a year ago, the Missouri General Assembly passed House Bill 583 that allows women and men that have been in abusive situations, through the Secretary of States Office in Jefferson City, to apply for protection by having their mail, especially legal documents, sent to the Secretary of State Office and then forwarded on to them without their abuser being able to find them," she said.
"Many people are not even sure what domestic violence is. It is a behavior of assault 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 can result in shattered homes and damaged lives. Very few tell anyone, not even a friend, a relative, a neighbor, or the police," Fohey said.
Victims come from all walks of life, all cultures, all income groups, all ages, all religions. Fohey said they share feelings of helplessness, isolation, guilt, fear and shame.
Christos House Oregon County Outreach has a mission. "Our mission is to provide a safe place for victims of domestic violence to escape the abuse and make positive changes in a supportive atmosphere," she said.
For further information or if you or someone you know needs help call 417-778-1773 or 417-252-3829.