The "Haven of NEA" Welcomes Victims of Abuse

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback


Domestic abuse in one form or another has existed since man and woman have been together.

In Blytheville there have been three domestic related homicides this year alone.

But there is help available.

Police officers everywhere deal with domestic violence every day.

Officer Vanessa Johnson recounted an incident where a man living in another city 5 hrs away showed up in Blytheville the same day he had threatened a woman.

Johnson, "You never know with domestic violence what a person actually has on their mind. And the thing that really prompted was that he actually made it here. He could have made good on his threat."

A group gathered in the office of Police Chief Ross Thompson took turns telling me about the Haven emergency shelter. Executive director Tonja Sutton said a main problem is getting the victims to come to the shelter.

"Some of them are very afraid to come and it even takes several calls sometimes. We have to continually encourage them to come. "It's going to be ok, Please come, We can help you.""

The haven offers all kinds of services besides just housing. Education, Court Advocacy, and counseling to name a few. Many in the Blytheville area don't even know that Haven exists although it's been around since the 90's.

A big push now is to get the word out, both about the shelter and the issue that created it.

Board member and Treasurer Charlotte Razer said "We really want to get out and educate the community on domestic violence in general. Not only to the victims but the whole community as well. "

Razer says education can even help break the abusers cycle. Abuse can perpetuate itself through the children.

"To break the cycle of abuse it's got to start with the younger generation."

Police Chief Ross Thompson says that victims of abuse need to understand that Haven is more than just a place to sleep. Haven can help them move on with their lives.

Thompson, "Make them aware of a way out, make them aware of the situation they may be in. Before they become a police report, or before they need police intervention.

With the words barely out of Chief Thompson's mouth, I watched as Officer Johnson was called on her radio to respond to yet another domestic dispute.

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