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Women’s shelter started in Yellow Springs

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With Lauren Heaton

In October 1981, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) initiated the first “Day of Unity,” a program designed to coordinate the efforts of advocates for battered women working to end domestic violence against women and children across the country. And since 1987, the NCADV has designated October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the United States.

Local resident Susan Stiles helped found the Family Violence Prevention Center — informally known as the Xenia Women’s Shelter — in Greene County in 1979. Then it was called the Greene County Domestic Violence Project, Stiles wrote in an email message this week, and was initially located in a couple of different locations in Yellow Springs, including one of the Twin Coach apartments in Yellow Springs.

Stiles, who directed the program from 1979 to 1988, wrote that during those nine years the program expanded and moved the shelter four times into larger accommodations.

“Programs included prevention programs at elementary, middle, and high schools, a crisis line, court advocacy, shelter and supportive services, transition housing, and community awareness,” Stiles wrote. She added that during her tenure several Yellow Springs residents were on the board of directors and were very supportive of the organization.

Yellow Springs resident Jerry Sutton, an engineer and lawyer, is current president of the FVPC board. His professional experience mediating divorce and child custody cases has given him some insight about issues of family conflict and has informed his commitment to promoting awareness about prevention.

“The objective is to break the cycle,” Sutton said. “If someone grows up seeing violence in the home, you assume that’s how you relate, and you carry it into your relationships.”

A recent PBS documentary, “Half the Sky” by former Dayton Literary Peace Prize Winner Nick Christopher, documented the severity of violence against women around the world. In recent years, investigative reports and documentaries have exposed an alarming number of incidents of rape and violence against female soldiers within the U.S. military.

“Females have been unduly put down,” Sutton said. “And here we are in the 21st century, and this is still going on in many segments of our society.”

The mission of FVPC is to reduce family and relationship violence and its impact in Greene County through prevention, intervention, safe-housing and collaborative community programs. The FVPC’s mission includes the following services:

Prevention: education in the schools and training youth about how to engage in violence-free relationships.

Safe Housing: providing a 24-hour crisis line, emergency shelter, and short and long-term transitional housing to the victims, both adults and children.

Intervention: counseling (adult victims, batterers, children), education and therapy groups.

Outreach: getting the word out through community presentations, speaking engagements, and the volunteer program

In a 2010 statement, the FVPC reported that in the previous five years, 10,116 Greene County middle school students received Violence Free Relationship training provided by FVPC. During that same period, the FVPC provided Life Skills training (Violence Free Relationships) to more than 6,800 Greene County high school students.

And over the past 10 years, FVPC has housed nearly 2,000 Greene County individuals.

Intervention in domestic disputes continues to be an important component of FVPC. And one of its most successful programs has been DIVERT, or Domestic Intervention for Violence Emergency Response Team. In this program, FVPC social workers team up with police officers to respond to domestic violence and domestic disputes throughout Greene County.

According to the 2010 statement, statistics from a recent six-week report indicated that the DIVERT program reduced the domestic violence recidivism rate by 80 percent.

FVPC continues to seek board members and volunteers to help with fundraising and awareness raising activities. For more information on how to help, contact Cheryl Haney at 426-6535.


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