October 9, 2018

Enough Is Enough – Preventing Domestic Violence in Buncombe County with Helpmate (Video)

By Samantha Kappalman

Our home is meant to be our sanctuary – the one place where we can always find peace, comfort and security. But for many, this is unfortunately not the case.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year. And Buncombe County reports that one out of every four woman will report violence at the hands of an intimate partner in their lifetime.

In October, which is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, take the time to ask a friend or loved one about their relationship or their life at home. Many don’t know that they are in an abusive relationship or they believe that it’s their fault.

There is help in our community for those that need a way out.

Since the Buncombe County Family Justice Center (FJC) opened in 2016, there is greater awareness of intimate partner violence in our region. In Buncombe County alone, there were nearly 18,000 domestic violence-related services provided in 2016. The FJC’s coordination of services from law enforcement, legal services, social services and forensic medical exams is designed to provide comprehensive services in one location to help survivors begin their journey to safety and hope. The service is a collaborative effort of many community partners including Mission Health.

Helpmate, one of the partners in the FJC, recognized the importance of building upon community awareness of intimate partner violence with education and prevention programming in an effort to prevent future violence. Their idea of developing and implementing a prevention campaign was supported by a grant from Mission Health’s Community Investment program.

“Helpmate’s mission is to eliminate abuse and fear by providing safety, shelter and support for people who have been victims of intimate-partner violence,” said April Burgess-Johnson, Executive Director, Helpmate. “With Mission’s help, we are working to change the community and prevent violence before it happens.”

Through a 2017 grant from Mission Health, Helpmate is educating youth in the community as well as medical providers, law enforcement and other first responders. The focus is on healthy relationships, what risks to look for and the questions to ask to help determine if someone is a victim of intimate-partner violence; they also provide information about lifesaving community services.

Helpmate takes more than 3,500 crisis calls per year and serves more than 2,600 survivors every year – numbers they desperately hope will fall as a result of their prevention efforts.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please call the Helpmate Crisis Hotline at 828-254-0516 or call 211.

To learn more about Mission Health’s Community Investment Program, visit mission-health.org/communityinvestment.