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As holiday looms, women’s shelter is at capacity

SALISBURY — For victims of domestic violence, the holidays often bring a complex and competing set of struggles.

Money is tight, schedules are packed and tensions are high, said Kimberly Fowler, shelter director for the Family Crisis Council. Abuse can worsen, she said.

Yet problems are often ignored in an effort to keep everyone together and cared for through the holidays, she said.

“I’m a victim myself, and I did it for years,” Fowler said. “That motherly instinct kicks in, … and you put up with the unnecessary because you feel like there is no other help available.”

Fortunately, Rowan and surroundings area have a resource in the council’s shelter for women and children.

This year, it’s in demand. The shelter, which can house as many as 24, is currently at maximum capacity.

“I think this shows that the message is out there,” she said. “People know we’re here. They know that domestic violence has its consequences.”

But a full shelter doesn’t mean victims are more inclined to leave their abusive situations for good. Fowler said it takes an average of seven attempts to leave before ties can be severed fully.

For many, the push to return is financial. Abusers may be the sole source of income in these struggling households, and victims will return to unhealthy relationships to see that their children are fed or celebrate Christmas.

Though the shelter can’t currently house any more women or families, Fowler encourages those who may be suffering to call. Assistance is still available through partnering organizations and other resources.

“You don’t have to stay,” she said. “We’re here to help. … Don’t feel like there’s no where to turn to, because we’re always here.”

The Crisis Council’s 24-hour crisis line is accessible by calling  704-636-4718, Ext. 1. Trained staff members are available at all hours to provide assistance to both male and female victims of abuse.

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