The Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie story has captivated the country over the last several weeks. Putting a spotlight on domestic violence
Sixty lives were lost in Wisconsin last year due to that abuse.
National data says more than ten million adults experience domestic violence annually…but not every case is reported.
Safe Path Social Worker Kristen Pavela said, “A lot of times it’s hard for a patient to reach out and want help, especially with something as sensitive as domestic violence or sexual assault, it can be very scary, and they have no idea where to go.”
That’s where programs like Mayo Clinic health system’s Safe Path come in, so people like Kristen Pavela can provide relief for people dealing with an abusive situation.
New Horizons in La Crosse also helps survivors of domestic violence, with staff using first-hand experience to comfort those who reach out.
Heidi Svee of New Horizons said, “many of us, myself included, are survivors, so to be able to give back in a different way is just incredibly humbling.”
Svee says new horizons have assisted more than 1,200 people over the past 18 months…but was seeing double those numbers before the pandemic.
Svee says the way lifestyles changed during the pandemic has made it more difficult for people to get themselves out of violent situations.
“A person’s ability to reach out for help has been limited with COVID because of quarantines, having to work from home, being at home potentially with their abuser.”
As Svee and new horizons continue to raise awareness about domestic abuse, there’s a key message she feels needs to be spread across the community.
“Violence is not okay, everyone deserves to feel safe wherever they are at in their lives.”
Svee encourages anyone dealing with domestic violence to stop in at one of New Horizons’ outreach centers or to contact their 24/7 crisis line.
Along with new horizons, Mayo Clinic’s Safe Path Program also provides 24-hour crisis intervention