New domestic violence shelter opens in Mecklenburg County

New domestic violence shelter opens in Mecklenburg County

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by AMY COWMAN / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @amywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on December 13, 2012 at 7:17 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 13 at 7:20 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Domestic violence victims now have a new "safe haven" in Mecklenburg County. After years of having to turn victims away, this new shelter has more space and more security.

Dr. Lissette Torres is a domestic violence survivor.  She wanted to speak at the opening ceremony for the new domestic violence shelter because when she was trying to leave there wasn't a safe haven like this.
 
"As a survivor I think it's really important to know that this shelter exists," Dr. Torres said.  "I remember they were more dark and dreary and I did not feel comfortable going to a place that existed, which was nowhere close like this.  This makes me feel safe.”
 
The Clyde and Ethel Dickson shelter has been a dream for Safe Alliance years in the making.
 
"We started the planning in 2006, and we started our capital campaign in 2009, and we were able to start building the building at beginning of this year," said Karen Parker with Safe Alliance.
 
With $8.6 million in fundraising, they're able to provide women with their own apartments, including a living space, kitchen and bathroom.
 
"Because we have 80 beds here we can keep people longer.  In our old facility we only had 29 beds so we were cycling people through all the time," said Parker.
 
Now women can stay a year, which they say will help victims with not just a roof over their head but with tools to live independently.
 
"It means everything.  We can give women an opportunity to do some short term job training to really learn how to make enough of a living to take care of her children," said shelter coordinator Jane Taylor.
 
And while they stay, they get a sense of safety. The shelter boasts a top notch security system and fencing to keep the abusers out. Lissette, who now works as a psychologist helping other victims, says it’s what victims need to be able to leave.
 
"It makes me feel more like I could actually come to a place like this because it provides a safety and a sense of ‘Oh, I could actually heal here,’" Dr. Torres added.
 
The shelter opens on Monday night with 10 emergency units and 19 apartments.  Safe Alliance says they're still in need of donations to support the new facility.

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