The Roswell Refuge goal: Help victims make it on their own

September 7, 2011 • Local News

This article is one in a series of stories focusing on local agencies which receive support from [auth] the United Way of Chaves County, which is currently conducting its annual fundraising campaign.

Perhaps best known for its shelter, The Roswell Refuge provides resources for victims and abusers alike who are trying to escape domestic violence.

The Roswell Refuge is comprised of two buildings. There is the shelter that provides temporary living accommodations for women and children who have fled an abusive environment, and administrative offices where a 52-week domestic violence course is offered for those who have been convicted of domestic violence.

“What most people know us for, is our shelter,” said Michelle Royer, assistant director of The Roswell Refuge. However, the 52-week course, formally known as the Domestic Violence Offender Treatment Program, is also an important part of what the refuge offers.

Doug Southern, executive director of The Roswell Refuge, said that in July there were 130 cases in the domestic violence offender treatment program. He said treatment involves 90-minute classes that focus on subjects such as communication issues, substance abuse issues, and the role men and women have in a relationship, to name a few.

Southern cautioned that the treatment is not an anger management course.

“(One) can be angry without being violent,” he said.

Royer said staff at the actual shelter tries to provide everything a woman who has just fled her home may need. This includes clothes, a fully stocked kitchen, cleaning supplies, bedding, and a washer and dryer. Assistance is also given in the form of two vans that provide transportation. The shelter even has a play area and toys for children.

Most important, the shelter is secure. Royer said the shelter has cameras inside and out, secured parking, and is concealed enough that no one can look to see who is inside.

“No one can drive by and look at who’s parked inside,” Royer said. This is crucial, she said, because “the probability of a woman being murdered is greater after she’s left her abuser, so security is a must.”

Victims of domestic violence can stay at the shelter for up to 90 days.

Victims need not stay at the shelter to receive assistance. Royer mentioned the case of a woman who had just left her abuser and needed help leaving Roswell. The woman was on her way to another city where she had family. When she escaped her abuser the woman and her children had nothing but the clothes on their backs. The Roswell Refuge staff helped the woman make it to her destination by providing her with gasoline, car seats for her children, diapers for her baby, clothes, and food.

Royer said The Roswell Refuge offers a variety of assistance, such as help with filling out a restraining order, creating resumes, and finding housing and employment. Southern said the refuge’s advocates can help a victim of domestic violence get in touch with the programs, agencies and other forms of assistance the person needs.

“Our advocates are very resourceful,” Southern said. “We coordinate with so many agencies it’s amazing.”

As a member agency of the United Way of Chaves County, The Roswell Refuge receives funds that are then split between the shelter and the administrative office. Last year, The Roswell Refuge received $42,000 from the UWCC. Royer said these funds help pay staff salaries.

“For us, the most valuable thing we have in our organization is our staff,” she said.

Royer said the efforts of staff members at The Roswell Refuge is meant to help victims be less inclined to return to their abuser.

“We assist (victims of domestic abuse) and advocate for them so they can become independent,” Royer said. “The goal is for them to make it on their own.”

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