One Billion Rising sheds light on domestic violence

Thursday was the annual, world-wide event to raise awareness of domestic abuse and violence against women.

In cities across the world, people held events for One Billion Rising, to rise above these issues and bring together men and women to take a stand.

Here in Ottumwa, the Crisis and Women's Shelter is open 24-7, 365 days a year to respond to emergencies and to the needs of women who suffer from sexual assault, domestic violence or homelessness. The shelter also helps men, but they do not have the facilities on-site to house them, so they reach out to other shelters and services in the area.

The shelter can house up to 39 women and children, 29 beds and 10 overflow cots, and can provide them with shelter and outreach services, but events like the One Billion Rising show how many of us it takes to take a stand against these issues.

"It really takes the community being supportive of victims, it's certainly not a one-person job," said Cheryl Brown, Executive Director of the Crisis and Women's Shelter. "We can't always be there, so we want to educate people in the community to be able to support victims because if one in three, or one in four women are victimized, almost everybody knows someone."

The shelter serves the populations of Appanoose, Davis, Monroe, Jefferson, Wayne and Wapello counties, and could add more after the reorganization of mental health services.

Brown said for the last three months, the shelter has been at 80% occupancy or above, so they are always in need of community support in the way of volunteers and donations. You can make a monetary donation, or drop off household items like cleaning supplies or personal hygiene items to the office at 421 N. Church St. in Ottumwa.