About 100 people gathered in the heat of the day August 1 to learn about plans for a new, up-to-date shelter for those hurt by family violence in Dane County. The event took place at 2102 Fordem Avenue in Madison, the site of the new shelter and future home of Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS). The theme: The dawning of a new DAIS and the official launch of the fund drive to make the long-awaited facility a reality.
At this time, as many as 50 women and their children are often on a waiting list seeking safety. The new shelter will more than double current shelter beds, with the capacity to grow in the future. By increasing total square footage available to DAIS by seven times, the building will allow all of their life-changing services to be enhanced.
“I am honored to be part of the effort to help build a new shelter for DAIS,” says Lisa Judd Blanchard, participating in memory of her sister and her niece. “The shelter isn’t just for victims of domestic violence, it is for ALL residents of Dane County with the many services DAIS offers. No matter where you live or how much money you make, someone you know is a victim of this horrific crime. I, for one, am happy DAIS is there to help not only the victims, but family members and friends of victims.” Judd Blanchard grew up in Fitchburg and lives in Verona.
Violence touches us all
Shannon Barry, executive director of DAIS, welcomed folks to the August 1 ceremony. “Most people have no idea of the impact of domestic violence,” said Barry — and most find it hard to believe it can and does happen in Dane County.
One in four women will experience physical abuse or sexual assault in her lifetime. Then there’s the ‘ripple effect’— how it impacts schools, neighborhoods, and faith communities. “The truth of it is, it touches us all,” Barry stressed. She then introduced two individuals “who’ve worked tirelessly in their careers” to help those hurt by domestic violence, Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney and County Executive Joe Parisi.
Sheriff Mahoney discussed the critical need for a new shelter and services to help break the cycle of abuse. “Boys who witness abuse at home are twice as likely to abuse in their own relationships,” he stated.
One third of law enforcement cases in Dane County referred to District Attorney Ismael Ozanne’s office are related to domestic violence. “And the sad truth is, even more cases go unreported,” Mahoney laments. Domestic abuse calls continue to be one of the most dangerous calls for service that law enforcement personnel can encounter; “officers risk acts of violence when they respond to assaults against victims of domestic violence. “
Mahoney stressed that brutal cases of physical violence, murder can destroy the futures for victims, offenders, families, and entire communities. However, hope is on the horizon. “Soon, there will be a rebirth of a new, innovative, up-to-date shelter,” he enthused. As a result of “our own great Capital Campaign,” he said, counseling capabilities for those that need these services most will also be expanded. The fund drive aims to build the resources “to ensure the services are available when needed for every, every victim.”
Domestic violence cuts across all lines of race, ethnicity, religion, and gender, Dane County Executive Parisi pointed out. It not only occurs in urban settings, it happens in rural and suburban areas as well — “and it happens way too often.”
We have one of the smallest shelters in the state, he stressed, yet Dane County’s the fastest growing county in Wisconsin. One emergency shelter for nearly 500,000 is certainly not enough, he indicated. We need to make it a priority, Parisi said, to aid families in crisis, those experiencing violence.
He mentioned the soundness of the 35-year-old agency behind the fund raising campaign. “Most of us have had first-hand experience with them (DAIS) and know how solid an organization they are,” Parisi said, encouraging everyone at the event to speak up to others about the dire need for a new building. “We hope you’ll join us in this long overdue cause,” he stated, calling for the community to work together.
Our shelter is your shelter
The new location marks a move from a previously undisclosed location to a very public one, Barry explained. This will allow for more security and follows a trend in shelters nationwide.
“Our shelter is your shelter…” she declared. “Our tired, overcrowded shelter is your shelter.”
The Capital Campaign still needs to raise five million dollars, Barry reported, encouraging attendees to help spread the word. “Who will help build hope and provide safety for the victims of domestic violence in Dane County?” she implored, inviting everyone to support the dawning of a new DAIS.
For more information, visit http://abuseintervention.org/give/capital-campaign/ or call Jan Loiselle at (608) 807-4012.