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"Herstory"

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Victims of Violence Intervention Program , Inc.
Organization Information
In 1979, the Women in Crisis Coalition formed for the purpose of assisting women, with or without dependent children, in crisis situations by providing temporary emergency shelter, food, advocacy, and referral services.  Educating the community regarding the incidence and causes of battering and rape was also part of this purpose. 
The Coalition was formed after a survey, developed by a group of concerned citizens, was sent to professionals in the human service and law enforcement fields in Butte, Harding, Lawrence and Meade counties.  The survey found there was a need for direct services to the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  A board of directors was organized and incorporated with non-profit status granted on November 14, 1979.  The Coalition has had its office in Sturgis, Deadwood, and Spearfish throughout the years.  Since 1984, the base office has been in Spearfish.  From May of 1987 to March of 1990, WICC maintained a rented shelter facility.  In March of 1990, WICC purchased a permanent shelter in Spearfish. 
Prior to 1987, clients were sheltered in private homes and motels for a limit of three days.  On February 9, 1991, the Board of Directors adopted a new name for the organization.  The name is now Victims of Violence Intervention Program, Inc. (VVIP). On April 25, 1991, the name “Artemis House” was adopted for the shelter.  Crisis Intervention Shelter Services began to serve Meade County in 1992 thus reducing VVIP’s services to Butte, Harding and Lawrence counties.
Victims of Violence Intervention Program, Inc. provides many different services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the three-county area.  These services include the following.
  • 24-hour crisis line - Trained volunteer advocates answer calls and provide information, referral, and moral support.
  • Advocacy - Individual advocates work one-on-one with clients providing moral support, assistance with housing, employment, public assistance, counseling, transportation, and accompaniment when seeking medical attention, legal services, or court services.
  • Emergency Shelter - Accommodations for up to 42 people. 
  • Speaker’s Bureau - Public education and community outreach concerning domestic violence and sexual assault to groups, organizations, and students.
  • Support Groups - Weekly meetings for women and children are incorporated in to the continuum of services provided to those in need of assistance.
  • Battered Women’s Support Groups - Self-directed group designed to empower women by educating them as to the dynamics of domestic violence and the impact the experiences have on self esteem, self-worth, etc.  To explore the resources and referral information for themselves as well as for their children with respect to parenting, discipline, TANF, etc.
  • Children’s Program - Provides staff/volunteer time with each child.  Weekly meetings concentrate on the development of self esteem, creative conflict resolution techniques, validation of feelings.  Through activity group and individual attention-guided by staff and children’s advocates, each child is encouraged to participate in a non-threatening environment designed to assist each child through his/her immediate crisis.  The Children’s Program staff also provides presentations to area schools on the topic of domestic violence, dating violence, date rape, etc.
  •  Networking - With law enforcement, social services, child protection, mental health agencies, community action programs, states’ attorneys, and other domestic violence assistance programs.
  • On-going Education - Opportunities for volunteers and staff to attend workshops and conferences.

VOLUNTEERS

The number of volunteers active in the program varies from 20-75.  Volunteers are actively recruited through advertising on the radio, in the newspapers, and advertisements on the campus of Black Hills State University in Spearfish.  The volunteers mainly consist of college students and citizens from the community of Spearfish.  The Artemis House provides an initial one-day training course for the crisis line advocates, with quarterly meetings to continue their educations and improve upon their ability to help provide services.  At all times, further assistance is available from full-time staff.

 
The volunteers play an intricate and vital part at the Artemis House, as they comprise the majority of our organization.  They assist staff to manage the crisis line 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  They help to maintain the operation of the office.  They assist at all fundraising events.  The volunteers also provide personal advocacy, transportation, information, referral service, and present prevention and educational programs to the community.  The Board of Directors also consists of volunteers who set policies and raise funds for the program. 

 

COMMUNITY

The Artemis House is located in the community of Spearfish, South Dakota.  However, this facility serves a rural three county area covering 5,808 square miles.  We are located on the western border of the state.  The position is about 30,000 and the main industries are logging, mining, ranching, tourism, and gambling.  The population centers are Spearfish, Deadwood, Lead, and Belle Fourche.

 
This area is one of the fastest growing in South Dakota.  Legalized gaming in Deadwood has been the main catalyst, and along with the economic growth, the area is experiencing increased crime which includes domestic violence and rape.
 
The ethnic background of the majority of the population is Caucasian.  There are only 535 Native Americans living in the three county areas according to the US Census.  However 25% of the women and children receiving our services are Native American.  This is because we are within 100 miles of two reservations, Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River.
 
Artemis House believes that between the staff, women, and volunteers, all areas of the community are represented within the organization.   Our WWIP board of directors, clients, and our advocates come from all areas of life.  We incorporate business owners, students, mothers, fathers, workers, and community leaders into our organization.  In addition, we serve clients from all different backgrounds and races.
 
There are no other organizations in the area that provide the full coverage of services that our facility does.  For this reason, it is imperative that we continue to operate and provide these services.
 
We are the only facility of our kind in the area, it is important that we maintain communication and cooperation with other organizations in the community.  Other organizations in the community that are familiar with our program are: the judicial system, law enforcement, social services, and child protection agencies.  Our facility interacts with these agencies.  Our facility interacts with these various organizations throughout the process of providing services to our clients.

 

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

Our Society has built a system of myths around the reality that literally thousands of women are being physically and psychologically abused in their homes.  That system of myths is keeping men and women trapped in terror and are perpetuating the problem from generation to generation.  The Victims of Violence Intervention Program, Inc. provides temporary emergency shelter and advocacy services for women who are in physical danger and works toward educating the community.

 
It is a myth that women who stay in a violent relationship stay because they are masochistic and encourage the violence.  It is a myth that most battered women are frustrated housewives who provoke their husbands into beating them.  It is a myth that a woman can simply walk out of a situation in which she is being beaten and start a new life.
 
The reality is that women who are physically beaten, whether it be one or a hundred times, must live in constant fear that it can and probably will happen again.  The reality is that 12% of all murders in the United States are husbands and wives killing each other, and the majority of cases are husbands killing wives.  The reality is that many women who leave the home after being beaten are relentlessly pursues, beaten again, and live in the constant fear of having their children kidnapped or beaten by the man who pursues her.  The reality is that most women have no alternative place to stay or anyone who will understand and not blame them for their situation.
 
The same systems of myths that show women as seductive temptresses, masochists, or psychologically unsound people, paint an equally false image of the man who beats a woman.   The belief that the man or woman is usually unemployed, uneducated, frustrated, alcoholic, lower class is equally false.  Doctors, lawyers, corporate executives beat their wives and children with as much frequency as the lower class male or female.  Alcohol is not the cause of abuse, but, as some have stated, it’s the thing that gives them the “courage” to do it.
 
The real tragedy of these myths is that they are not just misconceptions of the general public but are shared by the very people and institutions who deal with the problem: police, judges, therapists, clergy, doctors, those who abuse and, sadly, those who are beaten.
 
Our purpose is to provide a shelter for women and men that is free of these myths.  The shelter is a place where immediate needs will be met: food, shelter, and medical care.  Advocacy is provided to assure that those services and institutions designed to serve battered persons do so in a way that deals with the realities of that situation rather than with the myths.