The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, October 19, 1988, Image 10

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    Friendship Home
Friendship Home Statistics
i — — - -- - ' """ i
Total number shel
•12% increase over 1985
•40% increase over 1983
Total number of beds !
occupied daily-3562 \
•3% increase over 1985
•93% increase over 1983
Average daily occu
0 100 200 300 400 500 P8"^"10
[ |1987
Total number shel
•75% increase over 1986
•43% increase over 1984
Total number of beds
occupied daily--4227
•79% increase over 1986
•29 % increase over 1984
Average daily occu
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 Pancy~12
Source: From Friendship Home yearly reports
John Bruco/OoHy Nohraokan
Clockwise from top left: Shari Rayburn, executive director of the
Friendship Home, stands at one of the doors to the house. The building
is protected by a security system and its address and phone number are
unlisted; A former Friendship Home client sits in a bedroom In the
house. “I think a lot of women are In the dark about where they stand
on domestic violence. There’s no need for that,” she said; Case
manager Jane Cogan talks on the phone with a Friendship Home client;
The Friendship Home lends a helping hand to women In need of
Battered find refuge
Editor’s note: Ellen is a victim of domestic
violence and her name has been changed to
protect her identity.
A high brick wall surrounds the house
and trees shelter the grounds where
the children play. Every window and
door bears a warning to those who enter: These
premises protected by an automatic security
alarm system.
Counselors stand watch day and night, and
although the occupants are free to come and go,
they sometimes prefer the safety of the house to
the uncertainty beyond.
This is the Lincoln Friendship Home. Its
address and phone number are unlisted. Its
occupants are battered women and children
trying to piece their lives back together.
Ellen arrived at the Friendship Home May 1,
1987. At the time, she was on her way to
Arizona to begin a new life for herself. Doing
what, she didn’t know.
“I had no concept of how I was going to live.
I had been a wife and mother all my life.”
When Ellen walked through the door of the
Friendship Home, she was 53 yearsold. She had
been married to her husband for 38 years, most
of which had been torn by violence.
Ellen married young, and had no one to turn
to when her husband started beating her.
‘‘At first I went to my mother’s, but she told
me to accept it. 1 was raised in a different time.”
Then the violence became a routine part of
Ellen’s life. Her life centered around raising
four children and taking care of her husband.
When her husband came home from work
dinner had to be on the table.
Ellen said the only time she relaxed was after
her husband had gone to bed.
Because of her children, her upbringing and
fear of being on her own, Ellen stayed with her
‘‘Every time he hit me, I told myself this was
it, I was leaving him. But I never did. I told
myself I would leave when my youngest son
graduated from high school, but then he gradu
ated from college, and I was still there.
Ellen said part of her problem was that she
denied being abused. Sne said she thought
every time would be the last, and after it was
over, her husband swore it would never happen
“He always gave me things afterwards. And
while it was happening, I would be thinking of
what I would ask for when it was over.”
The night before New Year’s Eve, more than
20 years after the beatings began, Ellen’s hus
band tried to kill her.
But Ellen stayed, because she thought there
was nowhere she could go.
“I don’t know why I finally left. I just
decided that if I didn’t leave then, I .might not
be able to leave later.
From RapelSpouse Abuse Center Statistics
Nebraska statutes define spouse abuse as
causing bodily injury to an adult in the same
household or causing another household
member to fear injury.
Spouse abuse occurs all over the United
States. In the first five months of 1979,134
domestic assaults were reported to the Lin
coln Police Department. It is estimated that
only 10 to 20 percent of all incidents of
spouse abuse are reported.
“I had no idea places like the Friendship
Home existed. When I walked through the door
that night, I intended to be on my way the next
Beth Orton, 26, a senior case manager, has
met a lot of women like Ellen at the door of (he
Friendship Home. Orton said the first meeting
is different every time.
‘‘It always depends on the woman,” Orton
said. “A lot of times she wants to sit down and
talk about all the abuse that has happened, but
sometimes she isn't ready to talk and is ex
hausted from everything that has happened.”
Onon said denid of abuse is something she
helps the women deal with.
“A lot of times, the women will say, ‘He
didn ’ t hurt me,’ or4 It’s not abuse, this is the first
But realizing they are abused is the first step
women take in putting their lives back together,
Orton said.
“Most of the abused women have grown up
in abusive situations. Their mothers put up with
it, so they think they should put up with it loo.”
Orton said validating their feelings helps
women accept the fact that their situation was
“We question them about how they felt
about the beatings, and then let them know that
it is OK to feel that way. We let them know that
they were not the ones in the wrong.
Recent studies indicate that more than 50
percent of all American couples experience
spouse abuse including all physical violence
from an occasional slap to a severe beating.
Ten percent are said to inflict severe physi
cal violence on their mates, leaving the
United States with 4.7 million severely
beaten women. Researchers call these fig
ures conservative.
Rape/Spouse Abuse Crisis Center
Hotline 471-7273
“We also try to validate their fears. They
have to realize that their fears are real.”
Orton said the women also have to be as
sured that the Friendship Home is safe, that no
one can hurt them while they are there.
During their stay at the home, Orton and
other counselors help women break away from
their abusive homes and begin new lives.
Counselors provide information on job
searching, apartments and help the women
make their own decisions.
“ We don’t make the decisions for them We
give them options and listen to them, but it is
their life, and they know best how to change
their life.”
When women are trying to change their lives
and the affects of abuse, Orton said, it’s hard for
them to realize that their children also are
affected by their abusive situations.
As the Children’s Program Coordinator at
the Friendship Home, Denise Ahl sees the
trauma of domestic violence passed on to a
younger generation.
Ahl, 24, said the cycle of violence is most
evident in the children of abused mothers.
“The kids pick up on their parents’ actions,”
Ahl said. “When their father doesn’t respect
their mother, they think it’sOK todisobey her.”
Without a stable background and a break
from the cycle, Ahl said children are likely to be
violent when they grow up.
Ahl’s job is to break that cycle. Her pro
grams include counseling and support groups
where the children can talk in confidence about
the problems in their family life.
“Sometimes this is the first place children
can talk about violence without being afraid,”
Ahl said. “The most important thing for them is
to know they have a friend they can talk to.”
Ahl said that the first step in breaking the
cycle and getting children back into a “normal”
lifestyle is talking about violence and what they
think of abusive situations.
But violent behavior can start at any age, and
it often is difficult to explain to a child that
violence is wrong, and violent homes are not
“It really strikes home when you see a three
month-old hitting his mother in the face,” Ahl
Once the mothers and children have over
come their fears and accomplished their goals,
they leave the Friendship Home to begin new
lives, on their own.
Orton said continued counseling and sup
port groups help women keep in touch with
their feelings and help them gain self-confi
“They put their lives back together and the
continued support helps them from going back
to an abusive situation,” Orton said.