Providing Shelter from the Storms of Abuse

BHcare, a state-licensed nonprofit, offers individuals and families hope, dignity and respect as they battle mental illness, domestic violence and substance abuse.

The Alpha Chi Omega Sorority at Quinnipiac University presented a check for $23,850 to The Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services in June of 2015. The sorority has been providing support for domestic violence victims for over 23 years.

The impact of domestic abuse is all too-well known at the Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services (UCDVS). In 2014, the center assisted 6,232 women and children through a variety of domestic violence support services including a 24-hour crisis hotline, weekly support groups, legal advocacy and an emergency safe house.

UCDVS is one of the core programs offered by BHcare, a state-licensed nonprofit that provides individuals and families with hope, dignity and respect as they battle mental illness, domestic violence and substance abuse. A product of mergers and partnerships between several area behavioral health providers, BHcare's history encompasses over 30 years of service to the Lower Naugatuck Valley, Greater New Haven and Shoreline communities. Combined services touched more than 12,000 lives in 2014.

In 2009, BHcare extended the safety net available to domestic abuse survivors by taking on the operations of Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven. This enabled UCDVS to provide services via sites in Ansonia and North Haven. All services are confidential, offered free of charge and available in 170 different languages, making it easier for people to seek assistance for a problem that is often shrouded in secrecy and shame.

"Victims of domestic abuse tend to be paralyzed by fear. They feel as though there is no way out, and that they are somehow responsible for their situation," explains Roberta Cook, President and CEO of BHcare. "As soon as a woman makes contact with us, we put her in touch with a certified domestic violence counselor who can provide the emotional support that is so crucial for her recovery."

In addition, emergency shelter is available when a woman or her children are in immediate danger; separate arrangements can be made for sheltering male victims of domestic violence. UCDVS staff also help women navigate the complicated legal and criminal system, ensuring that violent offenders are appropriately prosecuted so that they are unable to hurt others. The center's work in the community is focused on bringing light to the problem of domestic abuse, while offering resources and solutions.

A survivor who received services from UCDVS had this to say about the nonprofit's support. "With [their] help--- along with myself--- I am a stronger woman, I am a more confident woman, and most importantly, a free woman. I am free of fear, free of violence, free of insults and degradation, because I now know, that I deserve it."

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven has supported the work of BHcare for decades through multiple funds. The Anne Hope Bennett Fund is one fund that has granted funds for general operating support to maintain behavioral health, prevention and domestic violence services.

To learn more about the UCDVS and other community support services, please visit the BHcare® profile.

Did You Know?

In a 2010 survey, the CDC determined that, "One in 3 women (32.9%) has experienced physical violence by an intimate partner."

Source: "The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report", National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.