Moun­tain Home abuse vic­tims get­ting a safe house

The Idaho Statesman (Sunday) - - STAY CONNECTED - BY NI­COLE BLAN­CHARD nblan­[email protected]­hostates­man.com

When Kim Mid­dle­ton needs to find some­where safe for her ru­ral Idaho clients, she of­ten starts hun­dreds of miles away.

“When peo­ple are high-risk, they go to Payette,” said Mid­dle­ton, the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the El­more County Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Coun­cil.

Part of Mid­dle­ton’s job is re­lo­cat­ing abuse vic­tims who are in harm’s way. But with no ex­ist­ing shel­ters in the county just east of Ada County, find­ing some­where to house them has long been a chal­lenge. Shel­ters in nearby cities like Boise and Twin Falls are fre­quently full.

In 2019, El­more County’s first safe house will open and, Mid­dle­ton pre­dicts, ease some of the strain on Idaho’s ex­ist­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence re­sources.

The Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Coun­cil ex­pects the safe house will be com­plete by Oc­to­ber 2019. Ad­min­is­tra­tive ser­vices will open at the site, lo­cated in a for­mer restau­rant at 2375 Air­base Road in Moun­tain Home, by early spring, of­fi­cials said.

Mid­dle­ton said there’s been some con­cern over hav­ing the safe house “in a place peo­ple know where it is.” She said so­cial me­dia and tech­nol­ogy have made it hard to keep such lo­ca­tions se­cret, so the coun­cil de­cided not to try to keep it se­cret but to fo­cus in­stead on en­sur­ing the safe house is se­cure.

The safe house will in­clude six bed­rooms “for women and chil­dren who are flee­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence sit­u­a­tions,” a coun­cil news re­lease said. It will in­clude on-site laun­dry, a kitchen and din­ing area, coun­sel­ing space and a play­room for chil­dren. Ac­cord­ing to Mid­dle­ton, the safe house will likely be a 30-day pro­gram for res­i­dents. It will serve all of El­more County.

It isn’t im­me­di­ately clear how much the project will cost. The coun­cil re­cently raised $16,000 through a fundraiser, and Mid­dle­ton said the coun­cil is work­ing with a pri­vate foun­da­tion to se­cure ad­di­tional fund­ing.

‘A LONG TIME COM­ING’

Mid­dle­ton has long wor­ried about re­sources in El­more County.

She moved to Moun­tain Home six years ago. Af­ter work­ing 10 years with vic­tims in Canyon County, where a safe house/safe houses of­fered shel­ter and govern­ment and non­profit agen­cies of­fered sup­port, she was shocked to find so lit­tle help for do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence vic­tims in El­more County.

Apart from a cri­sis hot­line staffed by vol­un­teers, “there were just no ser­vices,” she said.

Ser­vices have ac­cu­mu­lated slowly, and Mid­dle­ton said the safe house is a “cru­cial” piece of that.

At times, she said, she has moved vic­tims as far as Ore­gon, Utah and Wash­ing­ton. Oc­ca­sion­ally Canyon County can of­fer a bed or two. The near­est large cities are just too over­bur­dened with their own cases.

“Twin Falls is al­ways full, Boise is al­ways full,” Mid­dle­ton said. “In six years (in El­more County), never once have I got­ten some­one into Women’s and Chil­dren’s Al­liance.

They’re al­ways full.”

WCA spokes­woman Chris Davis said there are just two se­cure do­mes­tic vi­o­lence shel­ters in the Trea­sure Val­ley: one run by the WCA, a Boise or­ga­ni­za­tion that aids vic­tims of do­mes­tic abuse and sex­ual as­sault, and Hope’s Door Shel­ter in Cald­well. Ac­cord­ing to the WCA web­site, it shel­tered 152 women and chil­dren in 2016.

Davis said the WCA is look­ing for­ward to adding a re­source to its net­work of lo­cal part­ners and em­pha­sized that lo­cal op­tions for sup­port can en­cour­age vic­tims to seek help.

“We have clients that come to us from all over,” Davis said. “Re­sources are a big thing, and mak­ing that de­ci­sion to leave an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship is very dif­fi­cult. Hav­ing a bar­rier [like lo­ca­tion] in place makes it even more dif­fi­cult.”

Though there will likely con­tinue to be a short­age of beds for Idaho vic­tims, Mid­dle­ton said the ad­di­tion of a re­source in Moun­tain Home can ben­e­fit the whole state as safe houses move vic­tims to dis­tance them from their abusers.

IF YOU OR SOME­ONE YOU KNOW IS IN AN ABU­SIVE SIT­U­A­TION

Call the 24-hour Idaho Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Hot­line at 1-800-669-3176 or

In El­more County, con­tact the Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Coun­cil at 208-587-3300

In Ada County, con­tact the WCA at 208-343-7025

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