D.O.V.E.S. Program

Discussion in 'General Health & Wellness' started by TwoCatDoctors, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member


    Abused seniors turn to DOVES
    Program supports age group not served by most domestic-violence shelters

    C.J. suffered domestic abuse throughout her 45-year marriage.

    In 2005, she fled her husband in Indiana and came to the Arizona Valley.

    The then-62-year-old seemed to have no place to turn - most domestic-violence programs and shelters serve younger women with children.

    C.J. lived at an International Airport and in downtown buildings while she desperately sought assistance. She was finally referred to the Area Agency on Aging's DOVES program, which provides services for older people who are victims of domestic violence and have run out of options.

    Alice Ghareib, director of DOVES (Domestic Violence Does Not Respect Age), said older women are not eligible for assistance through organizations designed for younger abused women with children.

    "This population, there are no services for them. There are no other options," Ghareib said. "The issues of the older population are unique. We need to be able to provide services across the board no matter what the age is."

    DOVES helps about 150 senior domestic-abuse victims yearly with transitional housing and support groups, while also raising awareness.

    "Just because couples turn 50, it doesn't mean domestic violence goes away," Ghareib said.

    C.J., now 67, said she had endured abuse most of her life as her husband mentally and verbally belittled her. Her husband is now dead, but the newspaper is withholding her full identity to protect her safety.

    "Verbal abuse for me, being naive, started at the beginning of the marriage, and as the years went by, it got worse and worse," C.J. said. "I thought I was worth nothing."

    In August 2005, she said, her husband pushed her up against the bathroom wall and the sink. He began cursing her and choking her. Finally, she got away to a friend's house. She decided that night she was leaving.

    The next morning, she took a flight to Arizona with $75 in her pocket and a bag of clothes and arrived with nowhere to stay.

    DOVES took her in. She was given temporary housing and began attending support-group meetings.

    Victims also receive assistance applying for public benefits, pursuing legal action and purchasing basic necessities.

    The program costs around $350,000 annually and is largely supported by community and business donations, Ghareib said.

    Season for Sharing has raised about $30,000 for the program since 2007. It is one of more than 130 agencies or programs supported by the annual campaign, which last year raised $2.86 million to assist Arizonans in need.

    "I can't say enough about the DOVES program," C.J. said. "If it hadn't been for them, I don't know where I would be right now. I really don't."

    Asked what advice she would give to a woman who was suffering the same abuse she went through, C.J. said she would tell the woman that it isn't her fault.

    "I don't care what you did or what you do, abuse is never justified," C.J. said. "I would tell them you have that right to leave, but only you can make that decision."

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