Quiet help for the abused

Published 6:48 pm Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Genieve Shelter is, by necessity, a bit of a secret to many of the people of Suffolk. With a mission to serve and protect female victims of domestic violence and their children, the shelter is careful to shield the identities of those who take refuge there, to the point where its administrators even take pains to keep the facility’s location under wraps. The point is to limit the ability of aggressive and abusive perpetrators of domestic violence to find their victims once they’ve broken free of the situations that threatened them.

Genieve Shelter’s quiet work in the community should not, however, be construed as limiting its effect on the people the organization serves. Many women and their children every year find the shelter to be their refuge of last resort from dangerous husbands or boyfriends. It’s a place where they can get on their feet and set into motion the process of beginning a new life.

There is enough demand for the program that the facility finds itself full more often than not, and administrators have begun a push to fund construction that will expand the shelter’s capacity by 80 percent.

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Thanks to the Obici Healthcare Foundation, the shelter also has expanded its program by offering mental health counseling through the Western Tidewater Community Services Board, which provides special support for clients who are often significantly emotionally traumatized when they arrive at Genieve.

And a partnership with Regent University provides clients with legal services for things like orders of protection and custody issues.

Mary Williams-Davis, the shelter’s executive director, said this week that the shelter hopes the community will get behind the new programs. One opportunity to do so will come in October, when a fundraising gala is planned at the Hilton Garden Inn on East Constance Road.

Sometimes the organizations that do the most to improve the lives of hurting people are among the quietest about their work. But however quiet the folks at Genieve Shelter are about what they do, the women and children they’ve helped through the years will likely never forget the way the organization stood between them and their abusers and shouted, “Enough!”