PDT Staff Writer
The Southern Ohio Task Force on Domestic Violence has a new, improved location, but still provides a much needed service to those suffering from domestic violence
Yvonne Lyon, has worked with the shelter for more than 20 years and currently works as a co-director at the shelter. Lyon said in the past, the shelter tried to keep their location a secret to ensure the safety of those who required its service, but the staff at the shelter no longer believes that is necessary.
“We want the community to know that we are not hiding anymore. I can truly stand here and say, that in the last 20 years things have gotten better. We will never get rid of domestic violence, but we can just about half way control it and that’s good compared to what it used to be,” Lyon said.
Lyon said she attributes the improvement in the management of domestic violence cases at the shelter to the support of local judges and prosecutors.
“I love my judges around here. We have the best judges and prosecutors than any county that I can think of could have,” Lyon said.
Ellen Dara, who is employed with the shelter as a domestic violence advocate, said she see the root of the improvements in the change of attitude within the court system.
“The court’s attitude has improved tremendously. It used to be against the woman, now they frown very heavily upon domestic violence,” Dara said.
Lyon said they are really proud of the new facility and the opportunity to provide services to those who find themselves in domestic violence situations.
The shelter is equipped with three bedrooms for temporary shelter, a fully-equipped kitchen with a food pantry, office space for staff, a meeting room for board members and a courtyard that is enclosed within the center of the building to ensure safety for the clientele.
The facility also has a garage and some of the windows in of the building have bullet-proof glass.
The shelter currently has an 11-member governing board, and nine people on staff who are trained to assist those who come to the shelter.
“No only do we train them and talk with them, but we send them to additional training in Columbus and to many other schools that surface that the Attorney General’s Office directs us to,” Lyon said.
The shelter provides a emergency temporary shelter, 24-hour crisis hotline, crisis intervention counseling, information and referral, court advocacy, transportation for shelter residents and community education.
According to Lyon, all of the services are free and are accepted by the residents on a voluntary basis.
“We have a safe house, we have two legal advocates in municipal court everyday to be there with clients. It’s intimidating if they are in a domestic situation. Many times they are scared to death,” Lyon said.
Lyon said one of the shelter’s biggest challenges is helping temporary residents find housing.
“There simply is not enough housing in the area, many times our hands are just tied in this area,” Lyon said.
Lyon also said the shelter also welcomes donations such as women and children’s clothing, food and canned goods, toys and miscellaneous items which may be brought directly to the shelter.
Cash or gift cards can be mailed to Southern Ohio Shelter P.O Box 754, Portsmouth, Ohio 45662.
Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.