JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - As domestic violence continues in the state, a Pine Belt shelter is working to help victims and stop the violent patterns.
“If someone calls you in the middle of the night and they are afraid for their life, they are not over there packing their clothes, they are getting their children and they are getting out,” said Domestic Abuse Family Shelter executive director Becky Stewart.
In Mississippi, one in four women are victims of severe physical domestic abuse.
“Mothers and their children come into the shelter with nothing,” Stewart said.
The Domestic Abuse Family Shelter operates in 11 counties across Mississippi. With one shelter in Laurel and a second in Hattiesburg, the nonprofit has serviced the Pine Belt for 35 years with a mission of breaking the cycle of abuse.
"It might not be you, but we promise you know someone," said Stewart.
Stewart said there is a domestic violence problem statewide.
“Look at this recent rash of killings and some of those are domestic violence related,” said Stewart. “So, from what I have seen this summer, the problem is there. And it’s also one of those problems people don’t like to talk about.”
A layer unraveling from the mix, children. Stewart said the organization, locally, is seeing an extraordinarily high number of children this summer in shelters.
“Normally, we see an increase in the summer time,” Stewart said. “That’s because a lot of times victims will stay during the school year because they really don’t want to interrupt their children’s lives. So, they may stay in that domestic situation.”
As the agency works to revive life back in victims, Stewart said, “Just to be safe and not be in fear of your life. That is the ultimate goal of our agency.”
They also have a passion for helping faultless children.
"We want to give them a good head start as well, just like we do for our own children and make sure they have all of the things they need to go back to school," said Stewart.
That’s where you can help. School supplies are needed for children living in area shelters. Click here for a complete list.
You can drop off supplies in two locations:
- The Domestic Abuse Family Shelter, Inc. business office at 236 South 12th Avenue in Laurel.
- United Way of Southeast Mississippi at 210 West Front Street Suite 400 in Hattiesburg.