Victims Of Domestic Violence Need Help Year-Round, Including The Holidays

 
From left: Elana Whitsitt, Oksana Whitsitt and Brooke Riddell organize gifts as volunteers gathered to wrap gifts for the women and children of Courage Connection at Trinity Lutheran Church, Urbana, Il on December 15, 2016.

From left: Elana Whitsitt, Oksana Whitsitt and Brooke Riddell organize gifts as volunteers gathered to wrap gifts for the women and children of Courage Connection at Trinity Lutheran Church, Urbana, Il on December 15, 2016.

Darrell Hoemann / C-U Citizen Access

Courage Connection is asking the community to help victims of domestic violence this holiday season through its "Adopt a Family" program.

The Champaign-Urbana-based nonprofit provides housing and services for domestic violence victims. And Development Director Michael Ujcich said the organization’s client base escalates around this time of year.

“We have individuals that are utilizing our services, this might be the first holiday away from their family, away from the things that they normally had,” Ujcich said.

Courage Connection will kick-off its "Adopt a Family" program on Wednesday. You can register at Courageconnection.org to help a family or an individual by purchasing items on their wish list.

The organization, which started in 1971, is the oldest in North America to provide services to domestic violence victims. In addition to emergency and transitional housing, Courage Connection  helps victims with financial and domestic violence counseling, court advocacy and parenting support. 

“It can be social abuse, and it can be economic or financial abuse. And sometimes those two, are the hardest to determine,” Ujcich said. “But it really does affect the lives of people in our community.”

Calls to the National Domestic Violence Helpline decrease between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. But the agency says whether or not domestic violence programs experience shifts in the number of people who access their services, the need is there year-round, and the holidays may present special challenges for victims.

Ujcich also stresses that domestic violence can affect people of all incomes and backgrounds.

“There is no geographic area, there is no demographical area. Anyone can suffer from that situation of domestic violence,”  he said. 

Courage Connection receives both private donations and state and federal grants for its programs. During Illinois' two-year budget impasse that began in 2015, the organization's financial statement took a hit. The community stepped in during a Save Courage Connection campaign two years ago to allow the organization to continue operating. Ujcich said while they have begun to receive funds again from the state on a regular basis, they continue to rely on the public to help support their programs and services.

Story source: WILL