For victims of domestic violence, it takes a tremendous amount of strength and courage to break free and ask for help. Since 1978, Rome’s Hospitality House for Women has been helping women take steps toward safety, security and stability.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, and since raising awareness can be dicey, Hospitality House is hosting several events throughout the month to spread the word about domestic violence as well as their services.
“So much of the work that we do on a daily basis is kind of secretive and kind of under the radar of the community, just based
on the fact that people that we serve are trying to stay safe,” said Amy Weaver, executive director. “It’s really difficult for the community to keep us in the front of their minds and remember what we do.”
So October, she said, is a great opportunity to put out information “in one big swoop,” to remind people of what Hospitality House does and invite them to participate.
Tonight, the annual candlelight vigil will take place at Rotary Plaza, between The Forum and the courthouse in Downtown Rome. Refreshments start at 6:30 p.m. and the program begins at 7 p.m.
Two keynote speakers will tell survivor stories, and the names of those who lost their lives because of domestic violence during this year will be read. The vigil is a way to raise awareness, to remember those who have died, to support those who still suffer, and to celebrate those who survive, Weaver said.
“Really and truly, domestic violence doesn’t care about your race or socioeconomic class or your religion or your upbringing,” she said. “We see people of all walks of life, often times the people who need our shelter services may be in the lower income bracket. Or maybe they just have exhausted all their resources, or they don’t want family to know, so they’re willing to go into a shelter rather than involving their family, sometimes that’s for safety’s sake.”
Weaver said Hospitality House extends services that go beyond providing a safe place to sleep.
“We’ve grown into a program that functions with a 27-bed emergency shelter as well as a really strong outreach program,” she said. “We serve 500 to 800 victims in shelter annually, and then double that number — so 1,000 to roughly 1,600 people — on an outreach basis.”
The outreach program has a legal advocacy piece, a legal advocate who helps people navigate the judicial systems.
Weaver said domestic violence victims often need assistance filing for temporary protective orders and getting with attorneys around town to handle child custody and divorce issues. Hospitality House also provides some financial assistance so people can break free economically, she said.
The organization also is sponsoring the 5th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser on Oct. 19 at Heritage Park.
Registration will be from 11 a.m. to noon or pre-register at www.hospitality-house.org. Men, women, children and pets are invited to participate and women’s shoes aren’t required.