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Wausau shelters at capacity, see rise in domestic violence

Female population is as high as 30% at the Wausau Warming Shelter compared to 18% last year
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 5:47 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Local shelters are at capacity across the area and more domestic abuse survivors are filling them.

“All of the shelters in surrounding areas are full. People don’t have a place to go so they’re using other resources,” said Jane Graham Jennings, executive director of The Women’s Community.

Graham says that could be why the Wausau Warming Center is seeing more domestic abuse cases.

“We’ve seen a lot more domestic violence this year. In terms of our female population is now 25% to 30%” Bob Grady, shelter coordinator for the Wausau Warming Center.

Grady said last year had about 18%. It prompted the warming shelter to change its sleeping arrangements in December. Now they have a separate male and female room.

“Anybody who’s in need, this is a place that they can come and feel hopefully safer or if not completely safe,” said Grady.

Grady said before the change, multiple fleeing women decided to leave. The Women’s Community is another place they can go for resources and support.

“So often victims feel like people are judging them and blaming them and questioning them. The most important thing we do is listen,” said Graham Jennings.

Both are confidential and stretched thin for space. With colder temperatures, the Wausau Warming Center is overflowing into hallways with guests.

“Stays in shelter tend to be much longer than they used to be,” said Graham Jennings.

At The Women’s Community, people say two months on average. Graham Jennings said it used to be more common for about three to four weeks.

“Affordable housing is an extreme barrier for people who are trying to move into safe housing,” said Graham Jennings.

Graham Jennings said advocates are ready to help people find solutions.

“Know you’re not alone, to know that this happens far too often.”

The Wausau Warming Center and The Women’s Community both rely on volunteers for their time and donations.

Click here to see how you can help the Wausau Warming Center.

Click here for The Women’s Community list of ways you can help.

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