As the holidays near, many of us look forward to spending time with family and friends. For victims of domestic abuse, however; the added stress of the holiday season can be a time of fear and hopelessness.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Often people are embarrassed and afraid to tell anyone, and they don’t know where to turn for help.
This is where a handful of people are making a big difference. For 40 years, Southern Valley Alliance (SVA) has been changing the lives of women, men, and children in Carver and Scott counties. To date, they’ve provided services to 23,000 members of our community, allowing them to live healthy lives free of abuse.
Katie Schaumann, SVA Community Engagement Coordinator, emphasizes the importance of a community rallying behind victims of domestic abuse. According to Schaumann, domestic violence, despite being very dangerous, is one of the most underreported crimes.
“We hope through our services and programs we can help educate the community and prevent abuse from occurring in the future,” Schaumann said. “We want survivors of abuse to know they’re not alone, and abuse is not their fault.”
One of SVA’s clients is grateful for their services: “Whoever answered the crisis line at 2:30 a.m. reassured me that I was doing the right thing, and my kids are worth being safe. It changed my life, probably saved my life.”
SVA’s services include a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week crisis line, crisis intervention assistance, court advocacy, safe housing partnerships, support groups and education. Schaumann also provides training to schools, law enforcement, faith communities and healthcare providers. In addition, SVA partners with the Carver Scott Humane Society to provide temporary foster care for pets to allow victims to focus on safely exiting unhealthy relationships.
To better provide services to the area, SVA just broke ground on a new facility in Shakopee. Schaumann said the current Belle Plaine location can’t serve the expanding needs of programming. The more visible location in Shakopee also allows clients easier access to SVA’s services, which include the ability to help walk-in clients.
In the spirit of sharing and giving this season, consider giving your time or resources to SVA. With a handful of dedicated staff and much to do, SVA welcomes volunteers of all skills and backgrounds. SVA provides all necessary training needed, and the time commitment varies with each position. Many of the volunteer opportunities can even be done from home. If interested, email email@example.com, or visit the SVA website at http://www.svamn.org/. Donations are accepted by cash, check, or Venmo @SVAMN.
If you or someone you care about is or may be a victim of domestic abuse, many resources are available on the SVA website. Reach them at the confidential crisis line at 952-873-4214.