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Domestic violence shelter turns 30

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Florida center provides safe haven for abuse victims.

For three decades, Pasco county survivors have sought refuge atTheSalvationArmysdomesticviolenceshelter in a six-week program to end the abuse.

Since it opened its doors in 1982, The Salvation Army’s domestic violence shelter in Florida has helped more than 10,000 women, children and men change their lives. It has empowered, protected and guided them through their challenges.

As one of Florida’s longest-running domestic violence shelters, the 32-bed facility is a 24-hour shelter for Pasco county residents who are fleeing an abuser. In 2011 alone, the shelter served 193 women and 178 children, and received 2,388 calls to its hotline.

For women residents like Elizabeth, The Salvation Army shelter was a safe haven for her and her six children.

Elizabeth stayed at the shelter twice, once in summer 2010 and another in fall 2011, both times fleeing her now ex-boyfriend.

“When I came here I felt like I was part of their family,” she recalled. “They gave me support, resources and just listened.”

Elizabeth is now out of the shelter and is six hours away from receiving her nursing degree.

“I don’t know what I would have done without this place—this light,” she said. “The women who work here are called to do this and they help people like me take the same away.”

Melynda’s road to recovery is just beginning.

Her month-long stay at the shelter has been filled with court, doctor and counseling appointments. She came to the shelter after being released from a local hospital. Her ex-boyfriend had shoved her causing her to hit her head on the ceramic tile, and then beat her.

“I could only see the blurry of an open door,” she said. “So I ran as fast I could out of there. I know he would have killed me.”

When asked about her eye, she calmly said, “It could be worse. I am alive.”

Melynda heard about The Salvation Army’s domestic violence program while recovering from the attack.

“There are so few places people can go to get this help,” she said. “I am so grateful.”

On March 30, the shelter celebrated its anniversary with adinnerandsilentauction that showcased residents’ art therapy.

To learn more about the program visit salvationarmyflorida.org. 

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