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Catherine's House in Belmont provides housing and other resources for homeless women. Domestic violence is often a cause of homelessness for women, president and CEO Ed Paat said.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and there are numerous resources across the region that assist those dealing with the matter.

Nationally, nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe physical violence, sexual violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).

Help is available for dealing with it directly and with the effects of such abuse, designed for both victims and abusers. 

And considering assaults aren’t always reported to the police, these organizations want those involved to know they’re there to help. 

 

Effects of domestic violence

“Domestic violence is one we see on a fairly regular basis,” said Ed Paat, president and CEO of Catherine’s House.

The Belmont organization serves women and children facing homelessness, whether because of domestic violence, un- or underemployment, lacking affordable housing or other factors. 

“We want people to know that Catherine’s House exists,” he said.

Paat said about 30 percent of those staying at Catherine’s House indicated domestic violence as a cause of homeless but, “that number is somewhat low.” He cited a statistic from a 1997 study that instead demonstrated 92 percent of homeless women were victims of domestic violence.

The “house” is part of the Sisters of Mercy ministry and is on the Belmont Abbey Sacred Heart campus. It provides housing, counseling, case management and financial literacy usually for a four-to-six-month period. 

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Catherine’s House staff member Sheila Purello prepares a room for use. The Belmont shelter gives women and children, some of whom are domestic violence survivors, a place to live and receive assistance free of cost.

Paat said roughly 50 percent of the residents are from Mecklenburg County, with 35 percent coming from Gaston County. And with an increase in demand for its services, Catherine’s House isn’t able to welcome all who seek assistance.

“More and more women are gaining courage to come out,” Paat of domestic violence victims. “If we’re going to do that, we want to make sure the support and infrastructure is in place for them.”

NCADV reports other effects of abuse may include injury, fearfulness, posttraumatic stress disorder and contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.

People can also find help from a domestic violence shelter like The Cathy Mabry Cloninger Center in Gastonia or Charlotte’s Safe Alliance shelter. There, services include a 24-hour crisis line, emergency shelter, court advocacy, bilingual services, assistance in filing victim compensation paperwork and more.

 

Help for those accused of domestic violence

There’s also a place for perpetrators of domestic violence. 

Men using the group services of Charlotte-based IMPACT Family Violence Services are often there as a part of a mandated court order. The intervention program is the only of its kind in Mecklenburg County and is certified in eight others, including Gaston and Lincoln.

“It’s not counseling or therapy,” said Bea Cote, founder and executive director of IMPACT. “We have them look at the underlying issues that made them think it was OK to abuse.”

A part of a Coordinated Community Response, the organization assists with court appearances for regular reviews, coordination of services with departments of social services, case planning and referrals for assistance with substance abuse, mental health, parenting and housing.

Cote said IMPACT does not recommend therapy or anger management and her approach to domestic violence is “not about anger.”

She said men – the organization recognizes women can be abusers also but is for men only – abuse women “because they can.”

“Usually they’ve abused many, many times before they get caught,” Cote said.

A 2009 report on the Hotline’s website says 18 percent of women have been raped in their lifetime. But NCADV reports a number closer to 20 percent. 

Men who have not been involved with law enforcement or the courts, but know their control or abuse has escalated and want help, may also attend IMPACT.

“When they’re transparent like that, then it’s a lot more helpful,” Cote said.

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