People might want to page through the annual report for Vera House just released today...not to find financial or business information, but to find a wider range of services than many people know the offer. Executive Director Randi Bregman would like to have people broaden their perspective should they ever need any kind of help for themselves, family or friends regarding relationship violence or sexual abuse.
“We still hear all the time in the community, “oh it’s a shelter for battered women, Oh, Vera House, a shelter.” But we’re much more than a shelter. And there are many people who are experiencing relationship violence or have been sexually abused or assaulted that will never seek the services of a shelter. So you can be female or male, identify as transgender. There’s really a hundred focal points of how you come to us.”
She highlights the 24-hour hotline for calls about any aspect of domestic violence; volunteers at family court to help with orders of protection or other legal matters; short and long-term counseling, as well as support for survivors. Bregman also finds the agency expanding to help more with Elder Abuse.
“And we’re really looking over the next few years to increase our specialized focus on elders, whose needs can be quite different. Some elders are victimized in an intimate partner relationship, like typically in domestic violence, but many are victimized by other family members or someone who’s like family to them.”
Bregman adds they'll be seeking to increase funding and efforts for education and prevention in the coming year for all types of abuse. The annual report does have financial breakdowns; Bregman wants donors to know the agency is healthy. She adds the donations they get from private individuals and local corporations are unrestricted, allowing them to continue a program even if specific government grants run out. The report can be seen online at Vera-House-dot-org.
FORGING FUTURES FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE SURVIVORS
It might not be enough to simply end a domestic violence or sexual abuse situation. The survivor could also need help forging a future. A new Vera House program can help with financial footing. Executive Director Bregman says one issue in an abusive relationship can be the victim’s lack of control over any finances.
“For some survivors they might not have even had economic control over the money they earned in a job, or they might not have been working. They’ve been in a home where they didn’t have access to economic resources. And often they have a passion or a vision or a dream. Some of the people in Project Phoenix, they’re now beginning to launch these businesses so that their able to hopefully build a future.”
Project Phoenix partners with the Southside Innovation Center and the WISE entrepreneurship program to help with independence. It’s one of many programs detailed in Vera House’s annual report, released Monday. Bregman hopes people take a look to see all the support, counseling services and prevention they’re doing, over and above their shelter services. There’s also information on Elder Abuse and the agency’s financials. The report is online at Vera house.org.