Box Elder County’s primary provider of services for victims of domestic violence is helping more people than ever, a sign that the problem is growing and shows no signs of going away.
Penny Evans, director of the New Hope Crisis Center in Brigham City, said the shelter served 1,155 people in the past year, up from 1,066 the year before. That number included 796 women, 228 children and 131 men who were suffering from some form of violence in their homes.
“Unfortunately those numbers are up in our county,” she said.
As she does every year, Evans appeared before the Box Elder County Commission and Tremonton City Council to read a proclamation declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Utah, and to share the latest figures and explain why New Hope Crisis Center fulfills a critical need within the county.
“We have an amazing staff and we couldn’t do it without the people there, and the community that supports us in so many ways,” Evans said.
She said the center responded to more than 2,800 crisis calls in the most recent year, which comes out to nearly eight calls per day.
The center deals with abuse situations including domestic, sexual, child abuse, dating violence, stalking and other problems.
In the past year alone, Evans said it helped 40 victims of sexual assault and rape, 19 victims of child sexual abuse, and 57 victims of child physical abuse. It sheltered 61 women and 71 children for a total of 2,665 bed nights.
“We stay busy, unfortunately,” she said.
While the statistics can be depressing, Evans said there are also uplifting success stories coming out of the shelter. She said a mother with two children and pregnant with a third came in looking for help and was able to stay at the shelter for the duration of her pregnancy, after which she found stable, secure housing with assistance from the center.
“That’s really why we’re there — to help people find safety, succeed and become self-sufficient,” she said. “It’s not just staying for one night.”
All of New Hope’s services are offered free of charge, and the center relies entirely on grants and private donations for its funding. While the center itself is in Brigham City, it also has a victim’s advocate who comes to Garland once or twice a week and works out of the resource center just north of the high school (the former seminary building).
The shelter has been able to expand in recent years. Three years ago, Evans worked with the Bear River Association of Governments to secure funding to remodel the basement area into a studio apartment that provides temporary housing to families, or serves as overflow when the shelter is full. The center also now has a justice court advocate who works countywide to help victims navigate the court system.
In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, New Hope Crisis Center and others will be participating in a domestic violence awareness walk beginning at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the Tremonton Civic Center, 102 S. Tremont St.