WESTPORT — A local group is gathering supplies for victims of one of the most hidden, yet prevalent issues in Fairfield County: domestic violence.
“The No. 1 most frequent call for police departments in our service area is domestic violence,” said Kevin Shippy, executive director of the Domestic Violence Crisis Center, the only domestic violence agency that serves Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, New Canaan, Darien, Wilton and Weston.
Westport police generally receive about 90 domestic violence calls a year, but in 2017 received 75 calls about domestic violence, Lt. Jillian Cabana said, adding the decrease is a nice turn in the right direction and could be a result of increased awareness about domestic violence and the move out of town of a family who repeatedly calls about domestic violence, along with other factors.
Cabana is a member of the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force, a group of local professionals, Town Hall employees, attorneys, mental health professionals, members of the interfaith community and domestic violence advocates that gather once a month to plan domestic violence awareness events. For the past month, the task force has organized a supply drive for DVCC’s safe houses in Norwalk and Stamford.
“Most people don’t realize how prevalent this is, even in our community. People think the victims come from depressed socioeconomic groups, but victims can be extremely educated men and women. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It does happen here and there is help out there, Cabana said, adding the supply drive, which ends Aug. 16, seeks bedding, clothing, luggage and school supplies for the 1,400 hundred clients the two DVCC safe house serve per year.
New leggings are especially needed because they can fit women of various waist sizes, Cabana said, noting luggage is also a useful donation because people often have to carry their belongings in garbage bags when they move out of the safe houses, which are temporary housing.
“It’s not uncommon that we may get a knock on the door of a mom with her child in hand and a bloody face,” Shippy said, adding his agency provides food, clothing, transportation, legal advocacy, and counseling, both psychological and financial, to victims, free of cost.
“The bad news is we’re over capacity in both locations,” Shippy said.
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