BY KATIE MATTESON
The staff and volunteers at the Women’s Resource Center in Racine see victims of domestic violence every day and night.
They see them at the door in the middle of the night. They see them in counseling sessions and support groups. They hear their voices on the phone. They see them in the courtroom. They see them during family visitation.
The center’s two locations, the Palmeter House on College Avenue and the Dover Healing House, serve more than 1,200 adult and children victims of domestic violence each year, as well as answering questions and making referrals to another 4,000 callers.
Those helped come from all 17 cities, town and villages within Racine County and transcend all socioeconomic levels.
Yet, many people are uninformed about the broad scope of domestic violence.
WRC board president Rebecca Johnson didn’t know much until Oct. 21, 2012, when her daughter’s step-sister was killed in a shooting at the Azana Salon & Spa in Brookfield. She was working at the salon when her co-worker’s husband killed his wife and two other women before killing himself.
After the incident, Johnson and her daughter, Haley, got involved in local efforts to increase awareness about domestic violence and break the cycle of abuse.
Johnson joined the Board of Directors at the Women’s Resource Center in 2013 and became board president in 2017.
She soon became aware of the Power and Control Wheel, produced and distributed by the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.
The diagram shows power and control in the center, surrounded by Intimidation, Emotional Abuse, Isolation, Minimizing, Denying and Blaming, Using Children, Economic Abuse, Male Privilege, Coercion and Threats.
“Physical and sexual assaults, or threats to commit them, are the most apparent forms of domestic violence and are usually the actions that allow others to become aware of the problem. However, regular use of other abusive behaviors by the batterer, when reinforced by one or more acts of physical violence, make up a larger system of abuse. Although physical assaults may occur only once or occasionally, they instill threat of future violent attacks and allow the abuser to take control of the woman’s life and circumstances.”
Since 1977, WRC’s dedicated staff of counselors, advocates and case managers have provided the following services at no charge to their clients:
- Emergency shelter for individuals and families fleeing domestic violence
- Court and non-legal advocacy
- Individual, group and children’s counseling and healing services
- 24-hour crisis help line, family visitation and supervised visitation services, prevention and community outreach.
One of the community outreach programs is Safe Start, which was established in 1997 for youth ages 11-18 who have witnessed domestic abuse and/or are experiencing teen dating abuse in Racine County. Students learn about healthy relationships during group meetings, youth council activities and during the annual Teen Dating Violence Awareness Conference.
This year the conference will take place on April 10 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Gateway Technical College.
The WRC also collaborates extensively with the HOPE Center, Bethany Apartments, Racine Vocational Ministry, YMCA, Love Inc. in Burlington and Legal Action of Wisconsin.
The organization’s major fundraiser will take place on Saturday, April 6 from 6-10 p.m. at Meadowbrook Country Club. The 13th Annual Purple Reign Gala will feature cocktails and conversations, dinner and awards, as well as live and silent auctions.
In addition to financial resources, the WRC is also seeking individuals and groups to adopt rooms at the two shelters for painting and updating and in-kind donations from electricians, plumbing contractors and roofers.
The board is also in the midst of hiring a new executive director, who’s expected to be in place in April.
For general information about the Women’s Resource Center, call (262) 633-3274. Those in crises may call (262) 633-3233, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Those in immediate danger should call 911.