One in seven men become victims of domestic violence during their lifetimes. Sheryl Christianson, senior programs manager of My Sisters’ Place says, “It’s not if you know someone affected by domestic violence it’s who you know.” Now men are finding shelter for the first time.
My Sisters’ Place Serves Men and Women
My Sisters’ Place recognizes that not only women are affected by domestic violence but men as well. “Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, but unfortunately men are usually very reluctant to seek help,” says Christianson.
“Tom” found refuge from a violent five-year relationship at My Sisters’ Place. "It was just a bad situation, and I just had to leave. So it was kind of like an emergency," said Tom.
The stigma of abuse keeps many people from coming forward and getting help. "That's the biggest problem – leaving - and then asking for help," says Tom.
Shift in Domestic Violence Survivors Seeking Help
Traditionally, My Sisters’ Place has served women and their children. "In the past year, we've had three adult males. So that is a big shift for us because, in the past 29 years, we've had zero," said Christianson. “Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, but unfortunately men are usually very reluctant to seek help. We must change our perceptions of abused men. They need the same type of assistance such as counseling, support and sometimes shelter.”
My Sisters’ Place provides safety planning, case management and skill/resource building to empower individuals to advocate for themselves and make a permanent change to their situation. The shelter assists with aftercare planning, employment, information and referral to transitional programs, affordable housing and furniture, food and other items.
Advice for Those Experiencing Abuse
Tom is leaving the program after getting back on his feet. He has advice for anyone experiencing abuse. “Don't be ashamed to ask for help. You don't have to stay there, and there are a lot of places that help," Tom said.