DAIS moves into new domestic violence shelter - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

DAIS moves into new domestic violence shelter

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Victims of domestic abuse in Dane County have a new place to go for help at a new shelter in Madison.

Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) staff have already moved into a new facility on Fordem Avenue on the east side of Madison. Residents will begin moving in later this week. The organization's old facility, at an undisclosed location in Madison, had room for 25 clients. The new shelter has enough beds for 56.

"To be able to offer a really beautiful and healing space to people who have been dealing with so much adversity and so much trauma is really what this whole project has been about," says executive director Shannon Barry.

The new shelter has special spaces for consultations, community gatherings and children. It's also home to DAIS offices. Barry tells 27 News the organization has already raised the $5.6 million needed for the building and is close to making it to the $7 million goal of the capital campaign.

With more space, DAIS will now be able to accept donations of clothing, personal care or other household items, along with food for its pantry. If you'd like to donate food, items or your time to DAIS, visit the organization's website for ways to help.

Another important change is the security of the shelter. DAIS worked with local law enforcement and a security firm to develop an extensive plan to keep residents safe from the potentially ongoing threat of an abuser. In 2010, DAIS reached out to other shelters in Wisconsin and nationwide to find out best practices for security and determine whether they should go public with the location.

The research found public buildings, especially new ones, were often safer because they were built with security in mind. Plus, with more attention in the public, the community was more supportive. Barry says having confidential facilities had an unintended consequence of keeping domestic violence out of sight. Since DAIS has been advertising its new facility and campaign, they've seen a big boost in the waitlist for services.

"When I'm seeing that kind of increase in the number of people reaching out to us that's to me a hopeful sign because it shows that people who may not have known about us before now know about us," Barry tells 27 News. "People finally can feel safe in reaching out and feel it's not their fault and they do deserve to be able to access help and services."

Barry says instead of a false sense of security, the new facility offers comfort and safety to empower victims to speak out and feel like they can come forward.

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