Imagine leaving your home and taking your children away from the place they know best and should feel the most secure and heading out in the middle of the night with nowhere and no one to help.

Several years ago we came across a woman with five children who, in fear for her life and the safety of her kids, had fled her home with nothing to escape what had become an increasingly violent situation. It was a story that caused us all to stop and think. We wondered what we would have done in the same situation.

Imagine leaving your home and taking your children away from the place they know best and should feel the most secure and heading out in the middle of the night with nowhere and no one to help.

Chances are each and every one of us know someone who has been the victim of domestic violence, and despite an increase in awareness, expanded prevention efforts and public education, violence between intimate partners continues at an alarming rate locally, statewide and across the nation.

Fortunately here at Lake of the Ozarks, there is help, a place to call home until a victim can start their life over with services to help them reach that goal.

Just last year, according to Lake of the Ozarks Citizens Against Domestic Violence, 386 men, women and children in the area experienced domestic violence, and 424 hotlines calls were placed to their hotline from those fleeing violence and needing help in the past year. The majority of the victims are women and, in more cases than any of us would like to imagine, the domestic violence impacts children.

Over the course of the last year CADV averages seven victims per night, and during that same time period, has been there to help 54 victims of sexual assault.

This week, Citizens Against Domestic Violence announced a lakewide initiative to increase not only service but additional programs to reach more of the tri-county lake area. It’s called Vision 2020. A proactive approach to increasing the number of victims they can serve, opening new outreach offices in Miller and Morgan counties, expanding staffing to teach domestic, sexual and teen dating violence prevention in schools and working with local businesses and pooling resources with other organizations to strengthen transportation and childcare services for victims.

Many victims lack resources such as transportation, childcare, a job and more. According to CADV, the challenges of overcoming those obstacles can send a victim back to the abuser. Their goal is to find and develop even more resources to keep that from happening. Additional plans include forming a task force to address the issues that contribute to sexual and domestic violence, expanding their facility to provide more room, increase staffing levels to focus on helping victims once they leave the shelter and adding additional board members and volunteers.

Since 1985 when CADV started their hotline and providing referral services until now, the organization’s priority has been to assist clients who come to them for help. Now the organization is taking it a step beyond and looking at what else they can do to reach as many victims as possible, ensure clients get the help they need and to reach out to young men and women to help stop what continues to be a cycle of violence.

As a community, we need to continue to support CADV and the work they do with victims to become more than just a domestic violence statistic.

As individuals, we need to speak up and lend a hand. If we see something, report it. If we have time, volunteer. There are resources for those who need them, and these services are free.

About Domestic Violence

•Every 9 seconds someone the US is assaulted or beaten in a domestic violence situation.

•Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

•Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

•Domestic violence victims (men and women) lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.

Warning Signs

•Threats and coercion

•Making or carrying out threats to cause mental, emotional, legal, or physical harm

•Using intimidation

•Causing fear through the use of looks, actions, gestures

•Displaying weapons

•Using isolation

•Controlling and limiting victim's contact with family and friends

•Using children

•Making children relay messages

•Using visitations for harassment

•Threatening to take children away

•Using economic abuse

•Controlling all access to money

•Minimizing, denying, blaming

•Denying abuse

•Blaming victim

If you’re being abused

Call the CADV Hotline or Victim Outreach Center

HOTLINE 888-809-7233

Call 911 if you are in immediate danger.