Bridges offers help, safety for violence victims


By Peg Wunder

Helen Parisian talked about the role Bridges Against Domestic Violence plays in Mobridge when Rotary met on Monday, Dec. 9 at the Moose Lodge. She was introduced to the Rotarians by Duane Martin.
Helen has worked with Bridges for most of the 20 years it has been in existence in Mobridge. She started by stating that no one wants to admit that there is any domestic violence here in Mobridge. She said that people like to think it is from across the river or up north of here or somewhere else. She commented that everyone in the room knows someone who is in a domestic violence situation. She said that the crisis line is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Currently it has been pretty quiet but will pick up after the New Year.  Mothers want to try to keep their families together for the holidays.  Some will stay in that situation because they have no place to go. On the average they will leave a minimum of seven times but will go back to the abusive situation because they don’t know what else to do. People don’t like change and many feel it is better stay where they are rather than face the unknown. At one point the relationship was probably very good and they hope that the good times will return and everything will be all right. Many have been told that they are beautiful, smart and wonderful in the beginning but as time goes by they are told they are dumb, worthless and that no one else would want them. The suicide rate is high in this group of women.  Many have not only been abused, both mentally and physically, but have also been threatened with guns and other weapons.
Helen also spoke briefly about men who are abused. They do not stay at the Bridges shelter, but they are assisted in getting a place to stay and getting their life on track.
Recently a two-week-old baby and her mom were at the shelter for a period of time.
When they find a place to live and get a job they don’t stay in contact with Bridges. Helen said that it is a period of time in their lives that they don’t want to think about and remember. Bridges has had women from the ages of 14 to 68 years of age at the shelter.
Helen stated that there is a huge need for the shelter and the services that are provided.  She commented that it takes special people to be doctors, special people to be policemen and it takes special people to work at a shelter. Their talents include listening, caring and being willing to hear the terrible stories and then getting these women into a better situation with a place to live and a job. At Christmas the Shelter provides toys for those children who have been with them and they try to give a gift for each woman who has been at the Shelter. She said that the referrals come from the hospital and they work on getting protective orders through the police department. They get some referrals from other shelters and have had women come from Minnesota and Nebraska to use the shelter. They even had one from the East Coast who needed to get away from an abuser. Bridges is able to take in 14 people at a time and try not to take an individual female under 18 for legal reasons. Boys 12 or older are not allowed unless no one else is in the shelter.
Helen ended by saying that people are very reluctant to get involved when they hear or see abusive behavior. She thanked Rotary for all the support Bridges has received over the past years.
Chairman Harley Overseth thanked Dr. Leonard Linde for conducting the meetings for the past two weeks. There was discussion as to the prize that was given in the past to the District but no action was taken as to what Mobridge Rotary would donate this year for the spring fundraiser. The District needs to know by Dec. 31. Overseth said that if anyone has any ideas, they should present them at the next meeting as that meeting would be the last meeting for the year 2012.
The Rotary Classic Basketball Tournament will be held Thursday, Dec. 27, with the girls’ teams playing, and Friday, Dec. 28 with the boys’ teams playing. Games both days will start at 1 p.m. with the last game each day starting at 7 p.m. There will be a sign-up sheet next week for those who can sell tickets and for those who will help with the hospitality room.
Rotary needs to find a new place to store the parade float.  Jan Sayler will visit with the American Legion to see if they have any ideas where the float can be stored.
Michele Harrison announced that Judy Hoff won $500 at the first drawing of the Christmas Promotion and that there will be a drawing on each of the next two Saturdays.
Harley Overseth won the Monday Night Pool and Michele Harrison was present to claim the 50/50 pot.  Stan Mack will have the program when Rotary meets next Monday at the Moose Lodge.

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