MADISON (WKOW) -- A Madison woman, 31, made the decision to leave an abusive boyfriend, even though she was relatively new to the city and without much of a support system.
When she left, along with her came her seven children.
"I didn't feel safe for myself or my kids. I had to go."
She told 27 News she was given one week's stay at a hotel through a local domestic abuse program. She and her children are now staying with a virtually complete stranger who encountered her at a gas station. That good samaritan told 27 News she was a former domestic abuse victim herself and could not turn her back on someone in similar need. "I see myself all over again eight years ago."
Both the abuse victim and her host said it's been difficult to find shelter space to accomodate a family of eight.
Domestic Abuse Intervention Services executive director Shannon Barry said demand for shelter space for battered women has increased as the economy has declined.
"We have a 25 bed capacity," Barry told 27 News. "We are fortunate to have a small amount of money in order to place people in hotels if our shelter is full. There was such a huge demand on our shelter services last year, that money was exhausted in six months." While Barry said economic pressure is not the only factor in the level of shelter demand, she said last year's trend is amplified this year. Barry said nearly fifty more people have used the safe house program in the first quarter of this year as compared to last year's first quarter.
Community activisit Alice Howard is trying to help the mother of seven remain away from her abuser by networking with social service agencies to find her shelter. Howard said she's dealt with more desperate abuse victims in recent months than she has in the past.
"I know the economy is bad, but people are losing hope."
The battered women's shelter operated by DAIS typically allows shelter stay of thirty days, but only one week if a client has been placed in a hotel. Barry said DAIS collaborates with other social service providers such as the YWCA, the Salvation Army and Porchlight to try to make sure victims do not fall through the cracks.
The mother of seven said she's trying to remain hopeful of getting transitional housing. She continues to worry about the safety of her family, and the future of her children.
"If a woman is being battered, someone is always out there saying, 'You don't have to be battered, there are places you can go and things you can do,' " she told 27 News.
"But when you do go, they're not out there."
To comment, or provide help contact reporter Tony Galli: email@example.com