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posted: 10/17/2013 7:00 PM

Aurora facility offers assistance to domestic violence victims

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  • Patricia Rosenberg, with husband Michael, fights back tears while a song is played for her late daughter, Andrea Will, during candlelight vigil in 2010 at the Peg Bond Center in Batavia. Will was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1998 while a student at Eastern Illinois University.

       Patricia Rosenberg, with husband Michael, fights back tears while a song is played for her late daughter, Andrea Will, during candlelight vigil in 2010 at the Peg Bond Center in Batavia. Will was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1998 while a student at Eastern Illinois University.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Some of the participants prepare to get started at last year's Mutual Ground Walk for Hope.

      Some of the participants prepare to get started at last year's Mutual Ground Walk for Hope.
    Courtesy of Mutual Ground

 
 

No one knows all that happens behind closed doors. In some homes, you wouldn't want to know. Domestic violence is happening more now than ever before.

According to the FBI, one woman in this country is beaten every nine seconds. A woman is raped every five minutes. Three women die each day at the hands of a partner or husband.

It happens in homes where families live from paycheck to paycheck, as well as homes where money is not an issue.

"It runs the gamut," said Michelle Meyer, executive director of Mutual Ground in Aurora. "We have offered help to attorneys and doctors as well as the homeless."

Luckily, the door at Mutual Ground is open to all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. It offers emergency housing as well as programs regarding legal rights, restraining orders and government assistance. It arranges for transitional housing if necessary. Mutual Ground is the shelter in the storm for many women who don't have any place to go or anyone to turn to.

It also offers help for men who have been victimized at the hands of a partner.

"We can't offer emergency shelter for men but we do offer similar services, and we will help them find housing if needed," Meyer said.

If you think domestic violence isn't our problem, think again.

According to Meyer, there were 542 police calls involving domestic violence from Batavia and Geneva in 2012.

Perhaps the saddest victims of domestic violence are the children, those who witness the terror and those being abused. Mutual Ground offers counseling and education.

In 2008, I did a story about the shelter and learned of one 9-year-old boy who was so distraught over his mother's decision to return home to her husband that the son unsuccessfully attempted to take his own life rather than go with her.

In another case, a 3-year-old was so upset that his pregnant mom wouldn't let him have a doughnut that he started punching her in the stomach. That's what his dad did at home.

Mutual Ground works to break that cycle.

The support agency has outreach programs offering speakers for area schools who talk about domestic violence, sexual assault and personal body safety.

"If a child wants to talk about his own situation, we offer a private room after the presentation where he or she can talk one on one with a counselor," Meyer said.

These aren't the only victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Parents and grandparents of the victims are victims as well.

Patricia Rosenberg, of Batavia, knows that all too well. In 1997, she sent her daughter, Andrea, off to college at Eastern Illinois University. A few months later, the beautiful coed was strangled by a former boyfriend.

She lost her life and Rosenberg's life was changed forever.

What can you do to help?

You can participate in the Mutual Ground Walk for Hope at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Fabyan Forest Preserve, off Route 31 in Geneva. The goal is to get 300 people to walk and show their support. If you contribute $100, you will get a T-shirt. If you want to make a donation and just cheer the walkers on, you can do that too.

"We often get people who drop a check off that day," Meyer said.

You can also show your support by attending a candlelight vigil for Mutual Ground that takes place outside the Batavia Police Department at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 30. Rosenberg will be one of the speakers along with a detective from the police department. In addition, a survivor of domestic violence will be sharing a poem she wrote.

Mutual Ground offers safety and shelter 24 hours a day, seven days a week for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

We need to keep the doors open for those who need help and hope for a better life.

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