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Eat spaghetti, fight abuse


People are using the services of the Domestic Abuse Program a lot more these days.

The number of people who were housed in the shelter, operated by District IV Human Resources Development Council's abuse program, has more than doubled since 2009.

In 2009, 469 meals were served at the shelter. Last year, 1,143 meals were served.

To the staff at the program, the numbers show a good news/bad news situation.

Part of the increase is due to stress caused by economic woes.

Jamie Quinnell, one of the program staffers, said alcohol and drug abuse usually comes with an economic downturn, and substance abuse almost always leads to an increase in domestic abuse.

But the staff feels that some of the increase is because victims — usually women — are more likely to report their plight to authorities than ever before.

When domestic abuse victims come to the program, often referred by police, they are given counseling. Victims are walked through the court process. They are taken to the shelter or to a friend or relative's home for safekeeping.

But there are dozens of incidental expenses that victims run across in the days after they flee from an abuse situation.

Victims need food, medicine, car rides, clothing and dozens of other things that people can't think of until they are suddenly displaced from their homes, said Stacey Carrigan, a counsellor for the program.

That's where the staff hopes the community will help out.

The community will have two chances to help in the near future:

  • From 6 to 8 p. m. Saturday, a spaghetti dinner to raise funds for the program will be held at the Havre Eagles Club.

There, the staff said, people will be able to have a good time, enjoy the food and learn a little bit more about domestic abuse and its causes and preventions. The cost is $7 for adults, $5 for children.

Catholic Daughters of America are providing desserts, and Walmart and Gray & Leo's Fresh Foods are donating food items.

The "Clothesline Project," will be on display. That is a program in which victims explain their feelings about abuse.

  • The program has put a call out for volunteers to staff the hotline, a program where victims seek help or just someone to talk to.

Volunteers go through a brief training program. Recovering victims will address one session. A judge will speak at another.

Carrigan said people learn how they should respond to people who are going through a crisis.

People can use their mobile or their home phone to respond to crisis calls, Quinnell explained.

They can volunteer for as little as one night a month.

Calls for the crisis line are send to a central number in Great Falls. Havre area calls are then forwarded to the program's phone or during off-hours to the volunteers.

Volunteering for the hotline can be challenging but is very rewarding, they said.

The most important thing, they said, is to convince victims, many of whom havre been afraid to discuss their problems, to get things off their chest.

For more information on the program, call Jamie or Stacy at 265-6743.


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