Domestic violence shelters reaching capacity in F-M area

“Our shelter partners do a good job, and they do the absolute best they can.”
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 9:04 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - According to the CDC, on average nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.

Christopher Johnson, CEO of Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, said it’s currently a busy time of year for organizers at the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center in Fargo.

“The season is a big piece of it,” Johnson said. Our shelters get a little bit more overloaded in the winter. Of course, you know, our streets in the winter are very dangerous, just with the temperatures and so, over the winter, we do see the shelter environment get a little bit more taxed than in the summer.”

But Johnson said finding a safe space for domestic violence victims is a year-round problem.

“I’ve been in this work in the human service sector for over 20 years and shelter and the lack of shelter, the lack of housing options has generally, yes, been an issue in the community,” Johnson said.

But Johnson said that doesn’t stop the center from doing everything they can to help victims.

The center serves the entire metro, and Johnson said of the downfalls with the topic of domestic assault is many people blame the victim

“Even though that might feel good to us a society to say, ‘well, she should just leave,’ that’s just the first thinking here,” Johnson said. “So we push back on that pretty hard, because she’s not the one violating the law, she’s not the one who is who is creating this dynamic of violence within the home. And so right out of the gate we struggle with ‘well, that’s not a solution, either.’”

In addition to helping victims Johnson said the center also works to encourage individuals to help victims out when they can.

“That has been a really big focus for this organization trying to teach upstander as opposed to bystander skills to our community members,” Johnson said.

The center encourages everyone with questions or a need for help to reach out as they have 19 sister organizations in North Dakota and nearly 200 more in Minnesota.

“You know, our shelter partners do a good job, and they do the absolute best they can.”

The center says that they also offer a program where they work with offender to try to help them break the pattern of abuse.

Their crisis hotline is also available 24/7.