Since it’s nearing the end of October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, it is fitting that we’re learning more about D.O.V.E.S. of Gateway in Montgomery County today.
According to the Executive Director of D.O.V.E.S. of Gateway, 26 lives were lost due to domestic violence last year in Kentucky alone. D.O.V.E.S. of Gateway is a domestic violence emergency shelter that provides safe shelter and advocates for survivors of interpersonal violence. Their goal is to impact, educate and empower others to end intimate partner violence. They offer a welcoming community, residential housing, and transitional housing right next door.
If a survivor is able to get to the police and to the shelter, the staff at D.O.V.E.S. is available to help support them from there. “If the women can just get here, we can help with everything, like crisis aftercare or case management,” says Kelli Petronella, Executive Director.
The shelter is able to house 28 women and children at a time. From October 2018 through September 2019, D.O.V.E.S. served 784 total people, 222 of whom were residents. They filed 53 EPOs, provided a total of 252 criminal justice services, and provided a grand total of 1,528 services to the citizens of Montgomery County.
With the monetary support D.O.V.E.S. of Gateway received from United Way, they were able to start hosting non-residential support groups in Montgomery County, give out food boxes and Christmas presents to attendees, provide rental assistance and disperse weather-appropriate clothing to families in Montgomery County. They are also making an effort to reach out to underserved populations and plan to translate their materials into Spanish.
While all stories of survivors are impactful and memorable, Kelli shared this story of a recent survivor:
One survivor was living with her three children and was a victim of domestic violence for the past eight years. The abuse had mostly been emotional and verbal, but occasionally became physical. Her husband withheld money from her and stayed away during the week, so she and her children had to survive on $40 a week that she earned from babysitting. She started attending the Montgomery County support group, where advocates from D.O.V.E.S. informed her about available services and continued to provide support and encouragement until she was ready to leave the abusive situation.
When she came to the shelter, all of her needs and concerns were immediately addressed and advocates began to work with her on her self-identified goals. During her stay, she and her children received meals, clothing, and financial assistance. Individual case management, legal advocacy, group counseling sessions and support groups for her children were also available. She is now living independently with her three children and has secured childcare, medical coverage, employment and food stamps. Although she is no longer a resident, advocates continue to work with her on her goals.
“Anything we can do to help break barriers, we do. We provide bus tokens, help them do interviews and work on their resumes. We’ll help pay for a GED any day of the week,” said Kelli Petronella, Executive Director of D.O.V.E.S. of Gateway.