The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

SeaView seeks sanctuary for victims

 


SeaView Community Services domestic violence program has been on an even keel for over a year now, but the service is running up against limited resources. The local nonprofit continues to rebuild its Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault program in the wake of a period of recurring internal shuffles that left positions unfilled and the organization in transition.

According to SeaView DVSA Director Dawn McDevitt, who took over the job in January 2013, the longer the rebooted DVSA program serves the community, the more the extent of the issue of domestic violence in the Seward area is revealed. However, she says that limited temporary housing for victims, especially during the tourism season, is giving them nowhere to turn.

The local abuse victims program was started based on trying to keep clients in their own homes, but changing economic realities, where two incomes or more are required to maintain a household, mean that moving the abuser out can end up leaving everyone without a home. In any case, limited housing in the area means that whichever party leaves sometimes must face leaving the community. According to McDevitt, in too many cases, victims choose to remain in a bad situation.

McDevitt says the agency is also falling victim to its own success. Awareness of the program is growing and that in turn is bringing more cases into her office. However, the ability to respond due to lack of accommodations could stifle the increasing numbers of victims seeking help. She says that progress in having kept an advocate in the DVSA position for longer than a few months, could be reversed if the office can’t help victims.

According to McDivitt, the program is in the early stage of developing a commmunity shelter or shelters. Without a local shelter, victims have to make use of alternatives such as hotel rooms or volunteered homes on what are called shelter nights, which become rare commodities during the summer season. McDevitt says that she came close to leasing a building in August but the funding just wasn’t there.

Now, with a longer term strategy, McDevitt is looking to “raise a lot of funds.” She says that they’re obviously in the very early stages and that, for now, all of their fundraising efforts are going to support shelter nights. But they do have an eye out for a building or land, and for any partnerships that will help establish a formal shelter.

The next event to support the the SeaView Community Services DVSA program is their popular annual children’s carnival set for next month at the Alaska Railroad Cruise Ship Terminal.

The DVSA office is in SeaView Plaza at 302 Railway and can be reached at 224-5257. SeaView also has a crisis hotline at 224-3027 which is answered 24 hours a day.

 

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