ST. GEORGE — Success is sometimes both a blessing and a curse.
The Dove Center, which provides help to survivors of domestic violence and assault in Southern Utah, has released an annual report showing continued growth in both the number of people it has helped and the amount of funds the nonprofit organization has raised.
At the same time, those gains are just another reminder that the problem of rape, abuse and sexual trafficking is showing no sign of shrinking.
“We have had an incredible evolution starting with the mobile team when we first started, to the building of the shelter, to purchasing a facility that could provide advocacy to the evolution to transitional housing services,” Ruth Weniger, Dove Center’s board president, said. “Sadly, it is a natural evolution as demand for services continues to grow. What we will never know is are there more incidents or is it people know where they can go for help. Either way, we hope education will reduce the incidents.”
The Dove Center, based in St. George, released its annual report at its yearly meeting Nov. 12. The nonprofit organization reported a 21% increase in the number of individuals it has helped over the last year, including 15% more people provided safe shelter and more than tripling the number of children and teens for whom it has provided counseling services.
“Abusive relationships don’t take place in a vacuum,” Weniger said. “Those impacted aren’t just those in the relationship, but the children. There’s different types of abuse and more people affected by it.”
Dove Center’s Executive Director Lindsey Boyer says success for her organization has different variations.
“For one person, it’s just a phone call. They’re able to drive their path through that one phone call. Another success may be a teen who was in a household with domestic violence and they themselves break that cycle. Success is also volunteer who wants to be a better support to other survivors,” Boyer said. “It’s the little things.”
In all, 1,026 victims of domestic violence and abuse and those affected by it were served directly by the center in Washington and Kane counties. That includes 188 victims of rape and/or sexual assault and 186 children and teens receiving advocacy and counseling services; 153 adults and 97 children were provided safe shelter at the Dove House.
Another 1,384 received help through the Dove Center’s 24/7 helpline. Other services provided include education, court and medical advocacy and on-campus help at Dixie State University.
As far as financials, the Dove Center took $1,426,106 in public support and revenue, including $139,635 from in-kind donations and $486,060 from private grants and donations. The rest came from government grants and interest revenue.
The group lived up to its nonprofit nature, spending more in expenses: $1,444,865, of which $1,185,765 went to programs and $259,100 going toward administration and fundraising.
The Southern Utah area has its own unique challenges toward getting help for those affected by sexual assault. Among those challenges are monetary ones.
“We have an expensive place to live. We have a middle to lower class at risk of being the working homeless. Even just getting to the doctor can be an issue,” Boyer said. “We make sure people have these needs met without having to pay for it.”
That help is not only for the victims, but those close to the victims — especially the children. The Dove Center has on their staff a child play specialist who oversees youth trauma and deals with individual traumas through play settings. The result may not only be in the short term, but the long term.
“Our aim for that is we know a lot of research backs kids repeating the cycles in becoming the victims then perpetuating the violence,” Boyer said. “Less obvious are their development being stifled, suicide, addictive substances. A lot of children seem to have symptoms of ADHD that is misdiagnosed in children with this trauma.”
For their successes, Boyer said the Dove Center still has areas it has not been able to deliver. There were 43 individuals it was not able to shelter because of space limitations and 30% of requests for protective order assistance it was not able to meet. And the wait time for crisis counseling can exceed 90 days.
But while there can be hard days trying to help, there is still the reward of providing that help.
“To break that silence, it’s incredibly honorable to be entrusted and to be the listening ear to that person,” Boyer said. “There’s no judgment or expectation, we just want to help people heal.”
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