Doubling fines in Missouri cities, counties will help domestic violence shelter in Hannibal

* Originally Posted by the Quincy Herald-Whig on February 1, 2015.

Staff Writer | 217-221-3385 @athompsonWHIG

HANNIBAL, Mo. — A Northeast Missouri agency serving victims of domestic and sexual violence is looking to use a revised state law to make up funds lost to grant cuts and rising operational expenses.

Judy Edmonson, executive director of AVENUES in Hannibal, said she’s petitioning municipal and county governments in the agency’s service region to increase the ordinance violation fines and marriage license fees already collected for domestic violence shelters.

H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt

Heidi Coleman, center, speaks with victim advocates during a general staff meeting Thursday at the AVENUES shelter in Hannibal. | H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt

A measure adopted by the Missouri legislature last summer allows cities and counties to double fines collected for shelters under state law, if they choose. Edmonson hopes they do.

“We have so much to do (here),” she said. “Not only is it getting more and more expensive to provide shelter, just like everybody’s experienced in their own personal lives. The cost of lights, phone bills and grocery bills have gone up.”

AVENUES can shelter up to 14 adults and children at one time, but Edmonson said the agency also offers crisis intervention and case management services, in addition to advocacy for victims in the agency’s seven-county service area.

Please…AVENUES Needs Your Support Now!

Click here to download the letter and donation form.

Each year AVENUES provides a wide variety of services to over 1200 women, children and men who have been the victim of domestic violence and/or sexual assault/abuse. These 1200 individuals are not faceless strangers. They might be:

… the teller at the bank who has been raped by an acquaintance.

… the wife of the couple who sits behind you at church. Her husband only hits her in places where bruises will not show.

… the quiet boy who belongs to your son’s Cub Scout pack. His uncle has been sexually abusing him for the past two years.

… the single mom who lives next door. Her boyfriend gave her a black eye and knocked out a tooth. She told you she tripped over a toy and fell.

Or maybe it was you at one time…

AVENUES services are always free and confidential to anyone. Among the help we provide:

  • Safe shelter to women and their children.
  • Advocacy at the hospital, police station or court to help victims of domestic and sexual violence in the aftermath of an assault.
  • Transportation to court.
  • Information and support for victims, whether they choose legal action or not.
  • Hope for the future. The victim can become a survivor and create a healthy violence free life.

AVENUES cannot continue this essential work without your financial support. You can make it possible to help victims of domestic and sexual violence reclaim their lives. Your contribution is tax deductible. Donations of $100 or more are eligible for the Missouri Tax Credit. This is a special tax credit program to provide more benefits to those who donate $100 or more to a domestic violence shelter. For more information regarding this, please contact AVENUES at 573-406-1400.

Your support of AVENUES and your contribution are deeply appreciated and make a difference to the women, children and men served by AVENUES each year. Click here to download the letter and donation form.

Thanks for your support!

AVENUES Board of Directors—

Linda Dinges, President; Father Mike Quinn, Vice President; Elizabeth Knight, Treasurer; Diane Slough, Secretary;
Cory M Combs, Lt. Kathy Davis, Raine Gilmore, Mike Kettelkamp, Claire Robinson, Terry Cook, Steve Yager and Franco McHatton

What is Sexual Violence?

A message from Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is unlike any other crime.

Sexual violence is an intensely personal offense. It is a psychological and/or physical attack that can leave the victim feeling a spectrum of emotions. These emotions include fear, humiliation, loss of control, vulnerability, embarrassment, guilt or anger. Some victims may not define what happened to them as a crime; some may feel as if they did something to deserve the attack. Unlike victims of other crimes, sexual violence victims are often not believed, and are sometimes even blamed, for an act of violence committed against them that was completely beyond their control.

Sexual violence affects women, men and children. Anyone can be a victim or perpetrator—regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, appearance, ethnicity, education, race, socioeconomic background or religion.

Sexual violence is non-consensual conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual violence is distinguished from non-assaultive forms of sexual behavior by the absence of “consent.” Consent is the act of giving permission or approval. Consent is clear. It is not a passive assumption. For consensual sexual activity to occur, both parties must be able to give consent freely—without pressure or threat from another person.

Sexual violence is purposeful, violent behavior. The perpetrator accomplishes sexual violence through threat, coercion, exploitation, deceit, force, physical or mental incapacitation, and/or using power or authority. While sexual desire is a normal part of the human experience, it is not an excuse to use force or coercion in order to fulfill those desires.

A perpetrator may use a combination of tactics and behaviors. Sexual violence encompasses a range of acts including sexual harassment, voyeurism, exposure, sexual exploitation, sexual assault, rape, forcible sodomy, incest, child sexual abuse, ritual abuse, statutory rape, drug-facilitated sexual assault and intimate partner sexual assault.

Strangers and non-strangers alike can perpetrate sexual assault. A woman is more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone she knows—a friend, partner, date, classmate, neighbor or relative—than by a stranger in a dark alley. Individuals can be, and are, sexually assaulted by intimate partners and those they are dating. No social relationship, including marriage, entitles a person to sex, and every person has the right to change her or his mind about having sex.  One form of consensual sexual contact does not necessarily mean consent to other sexual activity. Studies show that more than half of adult female sexual assault victims were attacked by a former or current intimate partner.