Bolton Refuge House prepares for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 7:28 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and a new report shows the problem is getting worse in Wisconsin.

According to End Domestic Abuse WI, there were 80 domestic violence related deaths in 2021,12 more than in 2020.

Officials at Bolton Refuge House, a shelter in Eau Claire, way while people don’t often see domestic violence in their communities, it is a problem that can lead to deadly consequences.

“Domestic violence is a very violent crime. It definitely impacts your neighbor, your friend, people in our lives. Abuse is identified as physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, financial.” said Mainhia Yang of Bolton Refuge House.

“The thing about domestic violence is that it is a complicated issue and that it can happen to anyone. We work with victims and survivors who come from all backgrounds. I mean, gender, age, race,” said Cassie Pearson of Bolton Refuge House.

Pearson said 80 deaths averages to about one every four days.

As for Eau Claire’s 2021 numbers:

“We served 216 individuals just in our shelter, which came out to be 9,869 bed nights,” Pearson said.

Those numbers only account for Bolton Refuge House providing survivors a safe shelter. The organization does a lot more than give them a safe place to be.

“The services that we provide include legal advocacy, personal advocacy, health care advocacy, as well as mental health counseling, support services. We also have our 24/7 crisis line. We also have our LAP call, stands for legality assessment protocols,” Yang said.

“People, unfortunately, turn to us when they’re at their rock bottom and we get to be there to see them turn around. And, you know, we’re offering support but we get to see them succeed through their own will power and belief in themselves,” Pearson said.

On Oct. 6, Bolton Refuge House is hosting a “Star Walk Dedication” at Phoenix Park as a part of its “Day of Unity.” Each star will represent the victims who have died as a result of domestic violence.

The date is also the 40th anniversary of the death of Bolton Refuge House’s namesake, former Eau Claire Police Officer Robert Bolton. He was killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic abuse call.