I’ve been asked to talk about the past, present and future demand for The Women’s Center services. By the numbers, here’s a snapshot of just a few programs for you on the demand we’ve seen during a ten-year period, between 2008 to 2018, where we responded to:
- 73,000 calls to the Hotline – an average of 7,300 per year
- 3,200 adults and children seeking refuge in our shelter – roughly 320 per year
- Over 3,000 adult & child survivors of sexual assault – about 300 per year
In general, violence against women and children continues at an alarming rate. And, as a matter of fact, violence against men is also escalating. We saw a 25% increase in male survivors using our programs last year. Violence in the LGBTQ+ and other marginalized populations is also escalating. While we’re seeing more awareness on the issue, new victims contact us EVERY SINGLE DAY.
What’s the future demand look like? Well, unfortunately, from what we know from our first 42 years, we will continue to be needed for a long, long time.
We are seeing clients with more and more complex needs: more clients with suicidal ideations, more strangulations, more concerns regarding abusers and fire arms possession, more severe injuries, more near fatalities, more children witnessing violence, more sexual assaults, more mental health needs, more substance abuse usage, more men needing supportive services, and more schools reaching out for our violence prevention programming.
When this agency started, everything was offered in one house. As demand over time grew, TWC added staff and programming, continuing to grow as the demand continued, until ultimately investing in a building this size – a shelter this size — in 2002.
And with the current demand we are seeing, we are facing a need to grow again. We have 32 beds in our shelter and therefore are 36% of shelter beds in the entire county’s shelter system. We are the ONLY emergency crisis shelter in the entire county and the only shelter for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking. Therefore, when a victim needs a safe place to sleep, we are the only option for them in all of Waukesha County (that’s 580 square miles!). And we are consistently at 80-100% full capacity in our shelter.
On top of that, we also need more transitional living apartments, which provide housing for clients to live in for up to two years. And we are out of office space for our counselors and advocates, meaning we can’t add staff to increase the number of clients we are able to help.
So, in short, our future demand is pointing to a building expansion. We don’t know exactly what that means yet, but we are actively exploring options and costs and needs, which we will share with you in the months ahead.
Now, the most important part – why.
Because as people walk though our doors, experience the support and resources our wonderfully skilled staff provide, they develop the skills and access the resources needed to leave healthy, stronger, aware of their rights and options, and with the knowledge that they are the drivers of their lives.
How do we know? Because they tell us:
“This is an amazing and supportive place for women and children. I was in shelter and the TL program and I couldn’t have made it without them. Thank you all and know that I think of all the staff there often. I tell kids all the time that in spite of your childhood and violent relationships, you can succeed and give back.”
“My home is no longer a safe place for me. I appreciate the ability to be at a safe location with lots of resources. I just felt safe.”
“Your support improved my hopes, stimulated my strength, sent away negative thoughts and helped me set goals. My family and friends have peace of mind knowing that I am with The Women’s Center.”
“You saved my children and I from a violent disaster.”
That about sums it all up, doesn’t it?
Here at The Women’s Center, we provide space for survivors to reconnect with themselves and their strengths, to get the support they need to move forward. As demand grows, we grow. As client needs evolve, we evolve. That’s our future. We haven’t given up in 42 years, and we certainly won’t now.
So stick with us and see what TWC is capable of.
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