First of all let me thank all of you for your continued support for and generosity to the Domestic and Sexual Assault Outreach Center - D/SAOC. Without the support of our communities we would be forced to reduce our services to victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, violent crime and families and friends of homicide victims.
For those of you who are familiar with our services and those who are just learning about D/SAOC let me again state our mission: We offer safety, support and hope to adult and child victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and homicide because all people deserve a violence-free life and a compassionate community. If you or anyone you know is suffering because of domestic violence or sexual assault please call our crisis line (888) 356-2006. This call will be answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Someone is always available to take your call. Many of you know about our shelter, but our services include many other options. We offer free counseling, support groups, child advocacy and help for survivors of violent crime. If you have questions please call. If we can't help, we might know someone who can. No call or question is left unanswered. All of our services are free and confidential.
This has been a year of change and we are so excited to invite you to our next big fundraiser - new this year, but it will be an annual event. Wings of Hope Charity Run will be held Saturday. Look for posters and registration at Fort Dodge Ford and First Federal Savings Bank. Bring your motorcycles, classic cars and your minivans, we don't care. just join us for a 158-mile road trip stopping at six local watering holes. Chicken wings will be available at each stop and you can vote for your favorite. Stop and visit with D/SAOC staff at each location. You can register at Amigo's the day of the event starting at 10 a.m. We will have an after party at Amigo's and a drawing at 9:30 for a trip for two to Las Vegas. This includes a three days/two nights stay at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, airfare, spending money and other surprises. Tickets are only $25 or five for $100.
The Key on Central has also had some big changes this year adding a resale furniture store. We invite you to bring your gently used furniture, clothing and household items to The Key. This year we have helped more than 700 families with needed items. We have wonderful things to sell and you can always find a bargain. The store is open to the public. If you are looking for a great cause and want to volunteer call us at 955-2273. D/SAOC has the best volunteers and they give countless hours to service.
Since July of 2008, we have provided nearly 8,000 nights of shelter for victims of domestic or sexual assault. Most of the shelters in the state are full and resources are in demand all throughout Iowa. Violence between intimates has always been a part of family life. It has been described repeatedly in religious and historical documents across the centuries. Does this reflect a breakdown in the moral structure of the family or has visibility made us take a look at the level of violence in our families?
I want to make a special point of recognizing the "silent," "forgotten" and "unintended" victims of domestic abuse. Unfortunately, children are frequently present during violent incidents. Recent studies suggest that 3.3 million children and 10 million teenagers witness parental violence yearly. This means that one-third of our children know and understand violence up close and personal. Most witness these events repeatedly. Parents severely underestimate how much their children see. The more children witness violence in their homes, the more likely those children will experience adjustment problems. Here are some problems these children experience: behavioral and emotional problems, aggressive and antisocial behaviors, fearful and inhibited behaviors and lower social competence than other children. Anxiety and self-esteem issues, depression, anger and temperament problems are only a few, and I could go on and on. We at D/SAOC urge families to get involved and intervene if you know your grandchildren, nieces, nephews and neighborhood children are being subjected to domestic terrorism. We as adults must take responsibility. I know it is scary, and we try not to interfere, but we must think of the consequences of our unwillingness to take action. I know many of you have experienced sleepless nights worrying about your loved ones and wondering what to do. We must save our children and offer them a healthy, productive and loving future free of violence.
Parents, please take a closer look at your behavior and how it impacts your children. Don't hide in shame and minimize. Seek help and protect your children's future. If you are paralyzed by fear protecting your children can be a strong motivator to seek help.
Help us to help all of our most vulnerable citizens. We will all be better for it.
Connie Harris is executive director of the Domestic and Sexual Assault Outreach Center.