According to numbers provided by Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “more than 30 percent of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
Sue Tufte is the Outreach Services Coordinator for Domestic Violence Alternatives and the Sexual Assault Center, and she wants the people of Jasper County to know help is available.
“Our agency is a dual agency,” Tufte said. “There are some projects in the State of Iowa that only concentrate on either sexual assault or domestic violence. We concentrate on both. We cover Marshall, Tama, Poweshiek, and Jasper Counties. We have an outreach office here in Newton, our main office and shelter is Marshalltown. And that shelter is utilized by all four counties. So if a family, or a single woman or a single person would need to come into shelter from like Jasper County, and they didn’t have transportation we would transport them. And it would be anytime day or night.”
All services they provide are free and confidential. They have a 24-hour crisis hotline answered by a trained advocate. DVA/SAC is a non-profit and a United Way Community Partner.
“Several Jasper families have utilized the shelter,” Tufte said. “If somebody would just want to call the crisis line to talk about what’s going on and not necessarily identify themselves they can call anonymously; they don’t have to give their name. We do ask for what county they’re from. But we do that just for our data collecting for funding sources. Sometimes they are a bit leery about giving that. And if they hesitate at all we don’t push it. We just want them to be able to get that call and be able to get the help that they need at that moment.”
The organization is very private but does require a name for one very important service they offer.
“If they want to come into shelter they have to give their name and they have to say where they are from,” she said. “And of course how many are in their family and such.”
What makes this group’s shelter so unique is they don’t discriminate by sex.
“We also do house male victims at our shelter,” she said. “We have a special needs area on the first floor for people that have mobility issues, and if nobody is in there at that time with those issues its where we would put a male victim. We also have a second floor room that is more private and off to the side, and we have housed male victims in that room also.”
Tufte also insists that the facility is very secure.
“We have a security system, we have cameras, and it’s locked at all times,” Tufte said. “You don’t get in unless you’re staying there or are an employee. Law enforcement is very good about responding if we see somebody standing there or lurking around. It’s in a confidential location. Of course there’s always going to be somebody who figures it out or tries to find it, but most people don’t have a clue where it’s at.”
“And everybody signs a confidentiality contract when they come into shelter,” Tufte continued. “(The contract) is for them not to tell anybody where they are staying at or show anybody or have anybody pick them up or drop them off there. They do know that, that is a stipulation for them to stay there. They need to keep that confidentiality for not only themselves, but for others and staff. If they do break that agreement they can be asked to leave shelter immediately.”
Tufte wants people to know that talking about sexual and domestic assault and violence doesn’t have to be taboo and that they should take advantage of their local resources if they experience issues.
“They can call or talk over the phone, walk-in or make an appointment for individual counseling sessions,” she said. “If any organizations want to learn more about our agency or what we do, they can definitely get a hold of me at my number or the 1-800 number and I would be more than happy to come and speak. Domestic violence and sexual assault touches a lot of lives, and there is help, and you don’t have to do this alone. We are here to help you through this and to give you options and to get you safe.”
For information or help call the crisis line at 1-800-779-3512 or Sue directly at (641)-791-3446.
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.